The laws surrounding expungement in North Carolina have undergone vast changes over the past several years. Many changes have been made to clean up the state’s expungement processes and to help give North Carolinians a second chance.
Second Chance Expungement Law
Many changes to North Carolina’s expungement law occurred earlier this summer. Some of these changes have been in the process of being made for years and years but are now finally coming forth to fruition.
One of these such laws is the Second Chance bill that was passed in June 2017. This bill is designed to help improve the expungement processes of the state by cleaning the legislature up.
With the Second Chance bill, a North Carolinian is now allowed to be granted more than one expungement in their lifetime if the charge that is wanted to be expunged was dismissed in the court or was resulted in a not-guilty verdict. Previously in the history of the state’s expungement law, an individual was only allowed to be granted one expungement in their lifetime, but now, with the ability to have multiple expungements, the individual will be able to have better access to job opportunities and education advancements by being eligible for such opportunities. With the ability to expunge multiple charges, an individual can now expunge the charges that would prevent them from additional career and education moves to be able to now pursue those opportunities and advances.
Also, the Second Chance bill decreases many of the wait times required to get an expungement if they were convicted. In North Carolina and many states throughout the country, an individual is required to wait a predetermined amount of time after their conviction to begin the process of possibly having the said charge expunged. The Second Chance Bill took a look at the expungement wait times and decided to decrease the number of them.
With the law now in place, the wait time for expungement for a first-time, non-violent felony conviction has been reduced from 15 years to 10 years, meaning if an individual wants to expunge a charge for a first-time, non-violent felony conviction, they only have to wait 10 years to do so rather than the 15 years that used to be set in place.
The wait time for a first-time, non-violent misdemeanor conviction has been reduced from 15 years down to 5 years. This is a major change seeing as how much the wait time has been reduced, likely due to a large number of individuals affected by the long previous wait that prevented many futures from being written.
As the Second Chance bill was an extensive piece of legislature, there are even more changes to the expungement law that have been made. For example, North Carolina prosecutors will now be provided with electronic access to expungement records that will occur on or after December 1, 2017. This is likely due to the modernization of the court processes to streamline the document-gathering and make it easier for all parties involved.
Plus, the last new change with the Second Chance bill is that if the person who receives an expungement re-offends, then their conviction that was previously expunged on or after December 1, 2017, will be treated as a prior record. This change was made to hold individuals accountable and preserve the nature of the law.
While all of the changes have been announced and passed in the legislature, all of the above Second Chance law changes will go into effect December 1, 2017.
DWI Convictions in North Carolina
Previously throughout the state’s history, DWI (Driving While Imparied) convictions were on the list of eligible convictions for possible expungement, meaning this charge was traditionally allowed to potentially be expunged from an individual’s North Carolina record if the expungement process was successful.
However, as of December 1, 2015, DWI is no longer a conviction that can qualify for expungement and is no longer eligible to be expunged from an individual’s record. Regardless of where the individual lives and regardless of when the conviction was received, a DWI conviction is no longer able to be expunged from an individual’s criminal record.
To put it simply, no matter what, DWI convictions are no longer eligible for expungement.
Members of North Carolina legislature were going back and forth on this issue for years, debating and discussing if this charge should be eligible for expungement or not, but in 2015, the official decision to nix this charge from the list of expunge-able charges was made. Likely reasons behind the decision relate to the increasing rates and prevalence of motor vehicle crashes and other crimes related to intoxication and thus such a measure as this might help North Carolinians see how seriously the government is taking these matters.
How A North Carolina Lawyer Can Help
Even with the laws changing rapidly, your lawyer is already up-to-date and ready to fight for you, your future, and your expungement. A lawyer can tremendously help you in the expungement process by providing you with the knowledge, experience, and expertise to navigate the system and make the process as smooth and simple for you as possible.
It is highly encouraged that you work together with a lawyer at Remington & Dixon if you or a loved one are looking to get an expungement. There are many pieces to the puzzle for this process that require a lot of time, detail, and knowledge that is best suited for a lawyer. For example, a lawyer will be able to obtain and complete all the affidavits required on your behalf. Your lawyer will be able to sift through the official court process to push your paperwork along from one step to the next to ensure the process goes as quickly as possible for you so you can get your expungement as quickly as possible.
In working with a lawyer, your future is safe in their hands.
With the multitude of changes to North Carolina’s expungement law going into effect this December and with the DWI change that is already in effect, your future is possible. Contact your lawyer today at 704.247.7110 and begin the process to getting your life back on track.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.