Computer Upgrade Makes Criminal Background Checks Easier

Employers, landlords, co-workers, and nosy neighbors now have much faster access to the criminal pasts of North Carolina residents.

Prior to January 2016, public computers used a 37-year-old DOS system that was virtually impossible to navigate. Now, a Windows-based system with plain English instructions promises to make the searching much easier. Cumberland County Clerk Kim Tucker added that the new system would also be less expensive, because searchers can have results sent directly to their e-mail accounts instead of paying the clerks for copies. The new CIPRS system also gives patrons access to the statewide database.

Users still have the option to use the older ACIS system, because the searches sometimes yield more detailed results.

Pretrial Diversion Program

Many counties offer a pretrial diversion program, mostly for first-time offenders. The programs vary by jurisdiction, but generally speaking, the defendant must complete counselling, pay restitution, perform community service, and comply with other probation-like conditions. At the end of the diversion program, the charges are typically dismissed.

Persons charged with certain felonies and misdemeanors may be eligible for deferred prosecution. Procedurally, the defendant pleads guilty or no contest. But, instead of entering a conviction, the judge defers the matter for a period of a few months, or perhaps longer. At the end of the term, if the defendant has complied with all conditions, the case is dismissed. Many local prosecutors are open to non-statutory deferred adjudication arrangements, so most all defendants may be eligible; the only substantive difference is that a non-statutory deferred prosecution might be unsupervised.

In both these instances, the person will have an arrest record but no conviction record. So, in the months, years, and decades to come, the people can honestly answer “no” when they are asked if they have ever been convicted of a crime. If the questioner presses further, which is unlikely, the standard reply is, “I hired a lawyer and the lawyer took care of it.”

Formal Expunction

Other defendants may be able (depending on their previous criminal record) to have all records related to the arrest and case completely erased. To be eligible, the defendant must have had their charges dismissed, a finding of not guilty or have been convicted of a misdemeanor or H-I felony that was not a prohibited offense, like a hate crime, drug, or sexual offense. The petitioner can request expunction fifteen years after the date of conviction.

After the judge reviews the petition, it is sent to the State Bureau of Investigation in Raleigh. Once the SBI certifies that the petitioner has met the criteria, and that certification process usually takes several months, there is a hearing before the judge. The prosecutor normally waives this hearing, meaning that the judge approves the petition without argument.

All records are either physically destroyed or returned to the petitioner, and all affected agencies must receive notice.

Partner with Experienced Attorneys

The thorough attorneys at Remington & Dixon, PLLC may be able to help you avoid some or all negative consequences of a criminal conviction. Contact us today for prompt assistance. Convenient payment plans are available.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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