A criminal record can have serious consequences for the rest of your life, limiting job, social, educational, and living opportunities. In Dallas, North Carolina, it’s possible to have certain criminal records expunged, clearing your history and allowing you to rebuild your life.
Even if you had criminal charges filed against you and they were dismissed, or you were acquitted, your criminal record is still available to employers, landlords, schools, insurers, and anyone who chooses to do a background check on you. That record will still show the charges that were dismissed. Many people wish to get a fresh start after their convictions or dismissals by obtaining criminal record expunction.
If you’re looking into your eligibility for record expungement, you want to talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney. We believe in providing you with straightforward legal advice.
When your criminal record is expunged, a legal process removes a criminal charge or even a conviction from your record. This means sealing your record so that the public records of the charge or conviction are not available. Prosecutors and the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) are the only ones who have access to it.
While it’s possible to file for expungement without a lawyer, the process of filing is complex, and any mistake can cost you a lot of time in the expunction process. North Carolina has several different expungement statutes and various types of expungements.
The rules and regulations of expungement can be very confusing to work through on your own. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can walk you through whether you qualify for expungement and which statutes apply to your situation. An attorney can also ensure the process is done correctly and make everything as stress-free as possible.
In conviction cases, you can only expunge your record once in your life. However, for cases involving dismissal, acquittal, or a deferred case, you have unlimited opportunities to expunge your record. You could have your criminal record expunged if:
There are also time constraints for expungements. If you want to expunge a misdemeanor, you have to wait five years after conviction, and there can’t be any new crimes on your record — traffic violations do not count. For expunging multiple misdemeanors, the waiting period is seven years from conviction. To expunge one nonviolent felony, the waiting period to apply is 10 years after conviction.
The Second Chance Act was passed to provide people with another chance, especially nonviolent offenders. It aims to provide easier employment without the added issue of a criminal record. This act expands the number of people who can seek expungement. You can have your record expunged if:
Because of the Second Chance Act, cases involving dismissal or acquittal may be automatically expunged.
Some offenses are not eligible for expungement, even when it was a first offense or committed by a minor. These offenses include:
To determine if your situation means you could apply for record expungement, talk with a criminal defense attorney about your charges.
While not a requirement, expungement is a long and complex process. You have to file under the correct court and statute, with the correct Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) form. You may need to go to court after filling out the form. Making an error during this process can make it take even longer than the 10 months to a year it will take already. Speaking to an attorney before or during the process can provide a smoother and less stressful process.
Filing a petition to expunge your record costs $175 for most convictions. For a charge that ended in dismissal or a non-guilty verdict, there is no filing fee, unless the dismissal was gained through completing a deferred prosecution program (DPP). The process of filing a petition to receive expungement could take ten months.
A violent misdemeanor or felony, a felony that primarily involved assault, certain drug crime convictions, certain sex-related offenses, and certain offenses where you had to register as an offender, among other charges, cannot be expunged. This is true even if it was your first offense or were under legal age.
As of an expungement law in 2017, misdemeanors can be expunged five years after conviction instead of the previous 15. Felonies can be expunged after 10 years from conviction rather than 15. The limit on expunging dismissals or not-guilty verdicts was also removed, and prosecutors and law enforcement have access to expungement records.
Getting your criminal record expunged can allow you to protect your reputation, open opportunities, and move on with your life. At The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford, we understand that criminal convictions can impact your life and that you may have made an honest mistake. Contact our experienced team to see if we can help you get a clean criminal record.