How to Seal Your Criminal Record in North Carolina – North Carolina Expungement Law

Expungement is the process of eliminating a criminal conviction from a record so that arrest and conviction records are no longer visible to most entities such as employers, banks, and the like. Under North Carolina Law, it is possible to have certain crimes expunged under very specific criteria.

Generally, North Carolina only permits one expungement in a lifetime.

Expunction of records when charges are dismissed or there are findings of not guilty

Article 5 of the North Carolina General Statutes outlines that a person is eligible for one expungement per lifetime in North Carolina. If a person is charged with a crime and those charges are dismissed or the defendant is found not guilty in a trial, then that person is eligible for an expungement, regardless of the type of criminal charge.

Criminal charges that are dismissed as a result of successful completion of a First Offender, Deferred Prosecution, or Diversion agreement may also be expunged with a $175 application fee to the court. The exception to this is in cases where, as a condition of enrollment in a program, a person has waived his or her right to an expungement. In some North Carolina counties, domestic violence cases dismissed as part of a deferral program are not expungeable without the express consent of the district attorney upon entry into the diversion program.

Expunction of certain misdemeanors and felonies

For those that have been convicted of non-violent felonies and misdemeanors, expungements may be filed 15 years from date of completion of sentence. Non-violent felonies are any felonies or misdemeanors except the following:

·      Class A-G felonies

·      Offenses that include an element of assault

·      A felony that includes a requirement of inclusion on a registry, such as a sex offender registry

·      A felony for certain sex-related or stalking offenses

·      Any felony where the offense involves methamphetamines, heroin, or possession with intent to see or deliver or sell and deliver cocaine

To be eligible under this section of the expungement law, the charge seeking to be expunged must be the only charge on the individual’s record, so this is a provision for first time offenders. If a person has multiple charges at different times, this makes them ineligible for expungement under this section of the law.

Expungements for Youthful Offenders

There are provisions in the expungement law for offenses committed under the age of 18 or 21.  Generally, the waiting periods from time of conviction to eligibility for expungement is much shorter for youthful offenders. Specifically, expungements are available for:

·      First offenders under the age of 18 at the time of a misdemeanor conviction for certain misdemeanors or at the time of the commission of a nonviolent felony

·      First offenders under the age of 18 at the time of conviction of certain gang offenses

·      First offenders not over 21 years of age at the time of the offense of certain drug offenses

·      First offenders not over 21 years of age at the time of the offense of certain toxic vapors offenses

Other available expungements

Beyond those listed above, expungements are also available for victims of identity theft where their identity is used when another is charged for a crime. There is also a specific provision for individuals charged with prostitution related crimes to allow those charges to be sealed more quickly under certain circumstances.