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What is a North Carolina Expungement?

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What is an Expungement in North Carolina?

A North Carolina criminal expungement is a legal process that petitions the Court to remove a criminal conviction or a criminal charge from a person’s record and to destroy the state’s records of the arrest, charge, and/or conviction. A person who has had an expunction granted generally cannot be found guilty of perjury if he or she denies that the arrest, charge, or conviction ever happened.  The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC is a North Carolina Expungement focused law firm and we handle NC expungement petitions in most of the state.

What is the difference between an “expunction” and “expungement”?

“Expunction” and “expungement” mean the same thing. North Carolina’s expunction statutes use both terms interchangeably.  People also talk about sealing a record and the effect is the same for North Carolina expungement purposes.  . If you are granted an expungement, a court order will be entered ordering law enforcement to erase or destroy your criminal record. Specifically, North Carolina’s law makes it clear that the purpose of an expungement is to clear your public record of any arrest, criminal charge, or criminal conviction.

Who is eligible for an expunction?

There are numerous expunction statutes in North Carolina. Some allow the expunction of only specific types of offenses, like drug possession. Other statutes allow expunction of a broader range of offenses but for a smaller group of people, like persons who were under 18 or 21 at the time of the offense. Still others depend on how the charge ended; for example, there are statutes that address expunction of convictions and statutes that address expunction of charges that were dismissed or for which the defendant was found not guilty.  The dismissal or “nut guilty” expungement petitions are far and away the most common type of expungement in North Carolina.  Many people are eligible for expungements for their dismissed cases and do not know it.

Who Qualifies for an Expungement in North Carolina?

While you now have an idea of what an expungement is and how it may benefit you, let’s look at who qualifies for an expungement. While people often think that having an arrest, criminal charge, or criminal conviction expunged is an absolute right, the truth is that criminal records eligible for expungement in North Carolina are more common for dismissals and less common for convictions. In fact, to be eligible for an expunction you must meet the requirements listed under the statute applicable to your scenario.

 

Common Terms:

Background check – a procedure now almost universally in place wherein employers, schools, and landlords check for criminal history for applicants. Since about 1990 almost all criminal convictions are available electronically and are very easily discovered in a background check.

Cleaning a Record – another term used interchangeably with expungement or clearing a record, meaning essentially the same thing.

Court Appearance – some counties require expungements to occur in open court where there is an appearance by the attorney and the prosecutor in front of the judge. In the vast majority of the cases we handle the client never needs to appear in court.

Court Order – the document showing that an expungement has been completed.  All of our clients receive official court documentation with a raised seal proving that the expungement has occurred.

Criminal Record – court and governmental databases maintain records of criminal offenses. These records are maintained pretty much indefinitely and until an expungement occurs, a record check will continue to return a criminal conviction for decades unless the charge is erased through the expungement process.  In addition to fines, probation, and jail time, a criminal record can often be a barrier to things such as gainful employment, affordable housing, professional licensing, voting rights, welfare benefits, student loans, jury duty, and immigration status.

Diversion – this is a procedure for first offenders in drug cases and other cases to have criminal proceedings suspended, be sent to a counseling or training program, and after a period of time having the case dismissed without conviction. This is an excellent program, but unfortunately the record of the charge is still public and must be expunged in order to remove it from the view of the public and potential employers.

Eligibility for Expungement – Not everyone is eligible for an expungement of their criminal record. The law is complex and we are happy to provide a free telephone consultation to determine your eligibility; on-line eligibility quizzes have inherent shortcomings.

Eligible for Expungement – when a person is able to petition the court for expungement of their criminal convictions and also public records of a dismissal or not guilty verdict

Expungement – a legal proceeding that allows a criminal conviction or dismissed criminal case to be set aside and all public records erased.

Felony – a serious crime punishable by up to life in prison, although probation is often granted for first offenders. Most low level felonies can be expunged for certain eligible offenders.

Expungement Filing Fee or Expungement Court Costs – this is the amount of money the court charges to process an expungement petition; it is usually $175 for both felony and misdemeanor cases.  Some type of expungements do not require an expungement filing fee/court costs and some individuals may be able to petition the courts to avoid their fees.

Fines and Fees-costs associated with a criminal conviction; fines are payable to the court or often to the probation department or other agencies for anger management classes, alcohol education programs, or the like.

Firearms Rights-a person convicted of a felony offense, or a certain number of enumerated misdemeanors in North Carolina, lose their right to possess a firearm. An expungement itself does not reinstate that right, however firearms rights can be reinstated by reduction of the felony to a misdemeanor in certain circumstances.

Governor’s Pardon -a procedure where the governor of the state of North Carolina issues an official pardon for an individual convicted of a felony offense.

Infraction -a low level of criminal offense punishable only by a fine.

Legal Assistant – an individual that is not licensed to practice law but fills forms and does other tasks related to the practice of law at the supervision of an attorney.

Misdemeanor -a criminal offense punishable by up to 150 days in jail. Offenses such as larceny, drug possession and similar cases are misdemeanors. Most misdemeanors can be expunged.

On-line Record Check – dozens of Internet sites make available criminal record background checks. Our experience is that most of these sites are highly inaccurate and should not be relied upon. The most accurate way to check one’s record is to contact the court directly or hire an attorney to provide a thorough background check.  Our law firm has access to all court records through the AOC and can provide accurate background checks as part of the expungement process.

Probation – a period of time following a criminal conviction were a person is still under the supervision of either the probation department, or the court. There is formal and informal probation, formal probation or supervised probation involves reporting to the probation department, informal probation or unsupervised probation has no reporting requirement.

Probation Violation – (commonly “PV”) when an individual fails to live up to their terms and conditions of probation, such as failure to pay a fine, complete a school, or complete community service.

Reduction – a procedure where a felony charge is reduced to a misdemeanor charge in North Carolina.  One may have been charged with a felony but only pled to a misdemeanor in court.  For many people it is important to get rid of the felony charge in the expungement process.

Sealing Arrest Records – if you are arrested and not charged, or the case was dismissed, you may be able to seal records of that arrest through the expungement process.

Sex Registration – persons convicted of certain offenses related to sexual conduct are required to register with the local police agency.

Class 3 Misdemeanors in North Carolina – You could be sentenced to 1 to 30 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment. The maximum penalty would be 30 days in jail and a $200 fine.

Class 2 Misdemeanors in North Carolina – The sentence for a Class 2 misdemeanor is 1 to 60 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment, with the maximum penalty being 60 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Class 1 Misdemeanors in North Carolina– The sentencing range is 1 to 120 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment. The maximum jail time you could face would be 120 days. There is no maximum fine that could be assessed. This is completely in the judge’s discretion.

Class A1 Misdemeanors in North Carolina – You could be sentenced to 1 to 150 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment, with a maximum jail sentence of 150 days. Like with a Class 1 misdemeanor, the judge would have complete discretion on the amount of the fine you could have to pay.

Active Punishment – Active punishment involves a jail sentence that you would serve in a local jail or other confinement facility.

Intermediate Punishment – You could face an intermediate punishment if the judge sentences you to supervised probation. Terms of your probation could include house arrest with electronic monitoring, drug treatment court, satellite based monitoring, and some small periods of time in a jail or other confinement facility.

Community Punishment – Community punishment does not include jail time. You would most likely face a fine, possible probation, or community service.

If you were charged or convicted of a crime in North Carolina contact North Carolina Expungement Lawyers Wiley Nickel & Melissa Botiglione at 919-585-1486 for a free consultation. Our office is located in Cary and we conver most of the entire state of North Carolina for expungements.

How Do I Remove a Dismissed Criminal Case From My Record in North Carolina?

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A big question we often get from clients after getting their case is dismissed is “how will it affect my record?” Will a background check reveal that I was arrested? Will the charges show up when I go to rent property? The short answer is usually yes, the arrest and charges would still appear unless you get an expungement.

Expungement of Dismissed Cases in NC

Expungement is a way to remove convictions or dismissed cases from your record so that future background checks won’t display any arrests or charges. For North Carolina residents, the possibility of pursuing expungement has recently changed in a good way. North Carolina has recently made it much easier to get dismissed cases removed from your record through the expunction process.

Governor Roy Cooper signed a new expungement law, which took effect on December 1, 2017. This new law cuts down the wait time for non-violent misdemeanor and felony convictions. Misdemeanor conviction wait times have been reduced from 15 years to 5. Felony convictions from 15 years to 10. The new law has also lifted the limit of one expungement when the defendant’s charges were dismissed or they were acquitted. Now if the defendants whose charges are dismissed or who were found “not guilty” can apply for as many expungements as they want (assuming no felony convictions or active criminal cases).

Petitioning for an expungement can seem easy but it has a number of steps and involves a good amount of specific clerical work. The petition must be filed in the county where the charges took place. Also, the expungement process is a lengthy one so properly filling out and filing the paperwork is very important as a small mistake could mean your petition gets denied and you have to start again from scratch (having lost tons of time).

If you have a dismissed case or a not guilty verdict on your record contact The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for a free North Carolina expungement consultation.  Our office is located in Cary, NC and we handle expungements throughout North Carolina. Our phone number is 919-585-1486.  Contact a North Carolina Expungement Lawyer today to discuss your case.

How Does the Expungement Process Work in North Carolina?

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Step #1: Determining Eligibility

Are you eligible for an expungement? There are different rules for dismissed cases and convictions.  For dismissed cases there is now no limit on the amount of dismissed cases and not guilty cases you can get erased through the expungement process (as long as you don’t have a felony conviction or an active criminal case).  For convictions there are certain crimes that are not eligible for expungement and there are different rules for those under 18 at the time of offense, under 22 for certain crimes and then a 5/10 year wait for felony charges (10) and misdemeanors (5).  We generally need to pull court records to confirm whether you are eligible.

Step #2: Filing the Petition

Once we determine whether you are eligible for an expungement, we will file a petition for expunction in the clerk’s office in the county where you were charged.  You may need to sign affidavits and get character witnesses to do the same.  There may or may not be court costs of $175 depending on the type of expungement.

Step #3: Review by the SBI (North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation)

Following an initial signature by a judge or district attorney (if required) the petition is then mailed to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).  The SBI will conduct a search of the criminal records of North Carolina. Any records discovered will be attached to the petition and mailed to the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).  After reviewing the petition for any prior expungements by petitioner, the AOC attaches another report of its findings and sends it back to the clerk of court of the county where the petition was originally filed. This part of the process can take several months.

Step #4: Final Judgment by the Court

Once the petition is returned to the courthouse a judge makes a final determination based on the petition and information provided by the SBI and AOC. A this point the judge may sign the order granting the expungement without a formal hearing. However, if there is a question as to the applicant’s eligibility or if the district attorney has an objection, then a formal hearing could be required.  Following that hearing, the court will either grant or deny the expungement petition.

Step #5: Removal of Expunged Records

Upon the granting of the expungement petition, the clerk of court is statutorily required to send notice of the expunction to all of the relevant agencies that have information about your case.  They are then required to eliminate those records from the system after they’ve received notice.

If you have a criminal record (conviction or dismissed case) contact The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC to speak with an expungement lawyer during a free consultation.  We can be reached at 919-585-1486.

 

North Carolina Expungement Lawyer Explains Expungement Process

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Are you eligible for a North Carolina Expungement?

Your case is over but your record remains visible for all to see! If your case was dismissed (or you have certain convictions), you can protect your reputation and rebuild your life through the process of Expunging your North Carolina criminal record (also called Expunction).  Even if your case was dismissed a record still remains that is visible to future employers, current employers, customers, landlords, colleges, insurers and anyone else who might do a check on your record.

If you worked with your attorney to negotiate a dismissal of your criminal charge or are found not guilty at trial your criminal arrest record will still remain.  Even if you get a voluntary dismissal the original criminal charge will always be on your record.  If your record is expunged then all searches of your record will show a clean criminal record and a clean public arrest record.

A new law change allows for certain misdemeanor convictions to be expunged after 5 years and certain felony convictions to be erased through the expungement process after 10 years have passed.

Call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for a free consultation at 919-585-1486 to see if you are eligible for a North Carolina Expungement. Contact Expungement Lawyer Melissa Botiglione at our office in Cary today.

Top Ten Reasons for Getting Your North Carolina Criminal Conviction Expunged

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Why do I need a North Carolina Expungement? shutterstock_59368612

Top 10 Reasons for Getting a NC Expungement

1. Employment & Professional Licensure

Employment is probably the most significant area affected by a criminal conviction. Employers often perform criminal background checks on potential employees and are more likely to deny jobs to applicants with a criminal record. Some employers run criminal background checks on current employees to make sure they have remained in good standing during their employment period.

We have found that a criminal conviction is an especially significant obstacle for our clients who want to enlist in any branch of the armed services. Although it is not an automatic bar from being accepted to Officer Candidate School, most recruiters agree that it is highly unlikely an applicant with a criminal conviction will be chosen.

A criminal conviction may prevent you from obtaining a professional licensure. The licensing board may deny your application or take away your license as a result of a criminal conviction.

A criminal conviction or even a record of a dismissed case is just not the right first impression for any employment situation. Whether you have a conviction or your case was dismissed you may be eligible to have your charges expunged and avoid talking about a mistake from your past on that all important first interview.

The UNC School of Government’s Collateral Consequences Assessment Tool (C-CAT) lists over 300 employment and professional licensure areas that are affected by a criminal conviction. A full list can be found at http://ccat.sog.unc.edu/term-browser/25.

2. Housing

Having a criminal record can also limit your ability to obtain both public and private housing options. Not only will a criminal conviction affect your eligibility for public housing, but private landlords and other housing and real estate agencies may also refuse to provide you with housing. Landlords often use criminal background checks as part of the tenant screening process for rental applications. We’ve had several clients call us about an expungement after their rental application for housing was denied due to a criminal conviction. If you’ve had a case dismissed a record of the charge still shows up and can be seen by anyone. If you have had a case dismissed we can possibly help to have the records expunged.

3. Education

Schools of higher education may perform background checks or require disclosure of criminal convictions for students applying for admission. Certain drug related convictions can also disqualify students from receiving financial aid in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships.

4. Financial Consequences: Insurance

A criminal conviction results in direct financial costs and consequences, including:

Insurance companies will often charge higher insurance premiums for people with a criminal record. Certain offenses may even deem you to be “uninsurable.”

5. Financial Consequences: Loan Eligibility & Interest Rates

Banks and other lending institutions base decisions about loan eligibility and interest rates on the information found in your criminal record.

6. Civic & Firearm Rights

As many people know, one major consequence of a felony conviction is the loss of certain civic rights. For example, a convicted felon is denied the right to vote or hold an elective office and barred from serving as a juror.

Depending upon the type of conviction, a person’s firearms rights may be restricted or eliminated entirely. A convicted felon, for example, is prohibited from purchasing, owning, or possessing any type of firearm – not just for personal protection, but also for recreational purposes, such as hunting.

7. Public Benefits

Federal and state public benefits may be restricted, suspended, or permanently denied as a result of a criminal arrest or conviction. Benefits effected include:
i. Welfare
ii. Food stamps
iii. Public housing assistance
iv. Federal unemployment benefits

8. International Travel & Immigration

Countries may refuse entry to people with a criminal record, limiting one’s ability to travel internationally.

Criminal convictions may also have significant immigration consequences. Non-citizens living as legal residents in the United States may face deportation, inadmissibility, or be barred from naturalization.

9. Adoption & Foster Care

All states, including North Carolina, require criminal record checks as part of a background investigation for approving an adoptive or foster home placement. Certain criminal convictions will disqualify you from adopting a child or serving as a foster parent.

10. School Functions & Volunteer Work

Many schools do not allows parents with criminal convictions to do extracurricular activities and volunteer work with their own children! We have clients who get an expungement just so that they can participate in volunteer school activities.

Contact an Expungment Lawyer to discuss whether or not you qualify for an expungement.

If you have a criminal conviction or a dismissed criminal charge in North Carolina please contact the expungement lawyers at The Law offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for a free consultation. We will walk you through the process and let you know whether or not you qualify to have your North Carolina criminal record expunged. You can reach us at our office located in Cary, NC at 919-585-1486. You can also e-mail expungement lawyer Wiley Nickel directly at wiley@wileynickel.com.