As part of the same initiative, House Bill 280, which goes into effect on December 1, 2019, raises the minimum age to be charged as an adult to age 18 for most non-violent offenses. North Carolina was one of the last holdouts that charged 16 year old children as adults for any and all criminal offenses- now that mainly applies to serious felony and driving offenses.
New Expunction law changes in NC effective December 2021
New Expunction law changes in NC effective December 2017
NC Second Chance Act
On June 25, 2020 Governor Cooper signed State Bill 562, or the “Second Chance Act,” allows individuals with nonviolent criminal records to have multiple misdemeanor convictions expunged if it has been at least 7 years since their last conviction. The bill also provides for the automatic expunction of charges dismissed after December 1, 2021, although this apparently has been suspended due to the growing backlog. Be advised this change expanding expungement eligibility makes many of the blog responses to questions below outdated and incorrect. Make sure you always consult for an experienced attorney familiar with all the updated legislation for a specific analysis of your situation rather than rely on internet advice that may be flat wrong.
How do you get your criminal record expunged in NC?
A petition must be filed in the County Courthouse where the charge originated. There are about 20 different AOC forms that are available online when searching the word "expunction," and the new forms have now been released. Each form applies to a different statute subsection for NC expungement law. The different forms are based on the age of the petitioner, the nature of the charge, and the outcome of the case.
How do you get a felony expunged in NC?
A defendant is immediately eligible for both dismissals and not-guilty dispositions. If the charge resulted in a conviction the wait period depends on the age and charge. Felony convictions involving violence are often never eligible.
How do you get a misdemeanor expunged in NC?
A misdemeanor charge that has been dismissed or after a finding of not-guilty is immediately eligible. If the misdemeanor resulted in conviction the wait period varies based on the age of the defendant and the nature of the charge.
Can larceny be expunged in NC?
Under the new law, misdemeanor larceny convictions for those over age 18 at the time of the offense will be eligible after a 5 year wait period. If the defendant was under age 18 at the time of the offense the wait period remains at 2 years. There is no wait period for dismissals or findings of not-guilty.
Can assault be expunged in NC?
Charges involving violence such as assault can be expunged if the charge results in a dismissal or not guilty verdict. Assault convictions for those over age 18 on the date of offense are not eligible per statute. For those under age 18 on the date of offense there is an opening to remove misdemeanor assault convictions under G.S. 15A-145(a); however, the DA can object and the Judge will ultimately decide whether to sign the petition or not.
Can a DUI be expunged in NC?
A petition to expunge a DWI or DUI can be filed immediately upon a dismissal. The same is true if you win at trial and the verdict is not-guilty. DWI convictions are explicitly excluded from the definition of non-violent misdemeanor under § 15A-145.5(a)(8a) and hence are never eligible.
Can drug charges be expunged in NC?
Drug convictions can be expunged depending on the exact charge and age of the defendant at the time of the charge. Under the new law there are wait periods for convictions ranging from 12 months to 10 years for those under age 22 at the time of the offense, depending on the exact charge. For straight dismissals or after successful completion of the 90-96 program there is no wait period.
How long is a misdemeanor on your record in NC?
Any criminal conviction will remain on your record indefinitely under the laws of North Carolina. This includes pending charges, convictions, Prayer for Judgment Continued PJC's, or even dismissals prior to December 2020. Be aware the new Second Chance Act will impact cases disposed after December 1, 2021.
How long is a felony on your record in NC?
Felony charges, just like misdemeanor charges stay on your record indefinitely in NC. This includes both convictions and dismissals prior to December 2020. Charges never automatically drop off a record after a certain number of years. That misconception likely has spread based on the laws from another state, but not North Carolina.
How long does it take to get rid of a misdemeanor NC?
The expunction process due to the backlog generally takes 9-12 months to finalize. That being said, the wait period is likely to grow now that more people will be eligible.
How long does it take to get rid of a felony in NC?
It can take up to 12 months to remove a charge from a criminal record in NC. Once again, the wait times have been growing as the new law allows more people to be eligible and more employers require a clean record.
How can you get a felony removed from your record?
Many nonviolent felony convictions that are either Class H or Class I will be eligible under the new law after a wait period of 10 years. For convictions that occur before the defendant turned 18 there is a minimum 4 year wait period. For certain felony drug convictions that occur before age 22 there is a one (1) year wait period. For dismissals there should be no wait period.
Can infractions be expunged in NC?
Infractions generally do not qualify per NC statute. That being said, if a Judge will sign the order then it will likely be processed in Raleigh.
How many expungements can you get in NC?
The new law makes a much needed change by allowing a person to erase an unlimited number of charges that have been dismissed no matter when they occurred as long as the individual has no felony convictions.
How long do you have to wait to get a criminal record expunged?
As stated above the wait period varies depending on the charge, the age of the defendant, and the nature of the charge.
Can an expunged record be found?
The answer is maybe. Senate Bill 445 does allow law enforcement and prosecutors access to criminal charge information that have been removed from a record. This is a change from the prior law. Private databases and internet mugshot websites may also keep otherwise destroyed data.
What does it mean to have your record expunged?
When a record is expunged the charge will be removed from your official State criminal record.
Can law enforcement see an expunged record?
Under the new law effective December 1, 2017 law enforcement will have access to newly expunged charges.
Do arrests show up on a background check in NC?
If you have been arrested then you likely have been charged unless the magistrate declined to find probable cause, which is very rare. Assuming you were charged, the charge will appear on your criminal record.
What shows up in a background check for a job?
For a North Carolina criminal record check any misdemeanor or felony charge will appear. This includes pending charges, dismissals, PJC’s, and convictions.
Do pending charges show up in a background check?
Yes, pending charges do appear on North Carolina criminal records. They are reflected as “pending charges.”
Do dropped charges show on your background check?
Yes, even dropped charges will appear on a North Carolina criminal record check. Dismissed charges should be reflected as "dismissed" or "dismissed after deferred prosecution" if you had to enter a program to obtain the dismissal. Be aware cases disposed after December 1, 2021 may be impacted by the Second Chance Act.
Is a dismissed case on your record?
Charges dismissed prior to December 2020 appear on North Carolina criminal records. Cases dismissed after December 1, 2021 may automatically be expunged per the Second Chance Act.
What is dismissed with leave?
Dismissed with leave in NC means the prosecutor the later revive the charge. For criminal cases there may even be an outstanding Order for Arrest in NC or Failure to Appear that revokes your driver's license for driving offenses.
What is dismissed without leave?
Dismissed without leave in NC means the case has been permanently dismissed and cannot be later revived. This of course is the preferred outcome for a defendant.
How can I get my criminal record expunged for free?
There is no fee to expunge straight dismissals, that did not involve deferred prosecution. There is also no fee to erase a not-guilty verdict. There is a modest filing fee for convictions which is usually $175 or less depending on the charge.
How can I expunge my record without a lawyer?
No lawyer is required to petition the Court for a record expunction in NC. That being said you have to choose the best statute to proceed under, choose the correct AOC form, fill it out correctly, and likely attend Court at least once and maybe twice. Any error can lead to a major delay, in an already lengthy process.
Does your criminal record clear after 7 years?
No, under NC law there is no automatic removal of convictions or PJC's. This myth may originate from laws in other states, but does not apply in North Carolina.
Do expunged records show up on background checks?
Although an expunction should remove the charge from your official State record there are private databases that may still retain data even for expunged records. There are websites that screen capture mugshots and create a page on the internet with your face enlarged. They offer to take down the page for a “modest” fee, but most of these sites do have disclaimers the fee is waived if you provide a certified expungement order. It would be prudent to do a internet search of yourself after any expunction is finalized to verify no old arrest pages exist online that were overlooked by the State or that are still cached by Google.
How long does expungement take in NC?
The process from start to finish generally takes 9-12 months. First the Judge has to sign the initial request which is sent to the State Bureau of Investigations in Raleigh. The State Bureau of Investigation "SBI" will review your petition for about 3 months and decide whether you are eligible based on the applicable statute. The petition is then sent back to the county where it was filed. The local Court then usually places the matter on in front of a Judge which can take another 3 months on average. Once signed your local county may immediately destroy the file held at the Courthouse. Then the finalized petition is sent back to Raleigh where is sits on their growing stack of petitions to be processed where it can take another 6 months before the process is complete.
How much is it to get your criminal record expunged in NC?
Fees vary based on the outcome of the case. Dismissals are free to file. Not-guilty outcomes also have no charge. Convictions fees vary from $0 to $175 depending on the statute that applies.
Where do you file for record expungement in NC?
A petition must be filed in the County and State where the charge originated. Each state has unique expunction laws. For charges that originated in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina the petition must be filed in Charlotte. For charges that originated in Union County, North Carolina the petition must be filed in Monroe. For charges that occurred in Georgia the petition must be filed in Georgia, even if your probation was later moved to North Carolina.
Do I have any options if I don't qualify for expungement?
* Expunction laws in NC have been amended and some of the comments/responses below are outdated.