How Do Expungements Work in North Carolina?

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My law firm handles a lot of expungement work.  If you have been charged with a crime (or if you know someone who was ever charged with a crime) you should understand the rules for expungements in North Carolina.  There are two important types of expungements out there: (1) expungements for dismissed cases and (2) expungements for that one minor charge on your record that happened a long time ago.                                                                                                     

My case was dismissed.  Is there still a record?

Yes!  Even if your case was dismissed a record remains visible for everyone to see forever unless it is expunged.  There is no procedure to automatically expunge a dismissed case.  The record stays visible forever.  If you were charged with possession of marijuana (or any other charge imaginable) and the case was dismissed there will be a record visible to everyone that says essentially “possession of a schedule VI controlled substance – case dismissed.”  Anyone who sees your record will have immediate questions about why you were charged with possession of a controlled substance.  In the employment context it makes for a horrible first impression for prospective employers.

How does it work to expunge a dismissed case?

Generally, everyone in North Carolina can have any dismissed case (or not guilty verdict) expunged once in their lifetime.  You can pretty much get rid of anything you want as long as the case was dismissed or you were found not-guilty.  You file a petition and after around six months the records are erased.

I just had that one stupid crime and it’s been a long time…

If you pled guilty to one minor crime or were found guilty of one minor crime and it’s been 15 years without another charge then you may be eligible to have the criminal record expunged.  The North Carolina Legislature has essentially said that if you have one minor criminal charge on your record and have stayed out of trouble for fifteen years then you can apply for an expungement of that charge.

How does it work to get rid of that old conviction?

You need to provide some affidavits and affidavits from people who will attest to your good moral character in addition to the expungement petition. If you qualify for an expungement of that old criminal conviction there is a good possibility you can have the charge erased.

What is the effect of an expungement?

An order granting a petition for an expungement has two basic effects. One, it requires deletion of records about the case. Two, it seeks to restore the petitioner to the status he or she had before the criminal proceedings occurred.  The deletion requirement applies to North Carolina’s courts, state and local law enforcement agencies, other government agencies, and certain organizations in the business of providing criminal history information.  The expunction statutes express in various ways the principle that an expunction restores a person’s status as if the proceeding had not occurred. Most expunction statutes state this principle explicitly. Most also state that a person who receives an expunction may not thereafter be held under any provision of law to be guilty of perjury for failing to acknowledge the expunged criminal proceedings.

How do I move forward with an expungement?

There are dozens of other ways to have charges expunged.  A lot of good options are available for charges that happened when the petitioner was 21 and younger.  If you would like a free consultation about whether you qualify for an expungement or if you would like to know whether someone else qualifies for an expungement then please contact my law office at 919-948-7159.  You can speak to an expungement lawyer who will walk you through the process and explain your options.


District Court and Superior Court Judges

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This is a list of the District Court and Superior Court Judges who serve Wake County Courts.  The District Court judges only serve Wake County while the Superior Court judges rotate through Wake County and some surrounding counties.

District Judges for Wake County 4/28/14

Robert Blackwell Rader (Chief)

James R. Fullwood

Jennifer M. Green

Monica M. Bousman

Jane Powell Gray

Jennifer Jane Knox (currently running for Wake County Clerk of Court)

Debra Ann Smith Sasser

Lori G. Christian

Chrstine M. Walczyk

Eric Craig Chasse

Ned Wilson Mangum (currently the Interim Wake County District Attorney) His position will be filled by the Governor soon.

Jacqueline L. Brewer

Anna Elena Worley

Margaret Eagles

Keith O. Gregory

Vinston M. Rozier, Jr.

Michael J. Denning

Kris D. Bailey

Erin M. Graber

Louis B. Meyer (In a race for re-election against local attorney Ronnie Ainsley)

Dan Nagle


Superior Judges who serve in wake county & other nearby counties

Robert H. Hobgood

Henry W. Hight, Jr.

W. Osmond Smith III

Donald W. Stephens

Abraham P. Jones

Howard E. Manning, Jr.

Michael R. Morgan

Paul C. Gessner

Paul C. Ridgeway

G. Bryan Collins, Jr.

Orlando F. Hudson, Jr.

Elaine Bushfan

Michael O’Foghludha

James E. Hardin, Jr.

Robert F. Johnson

Wayne Abernathy

Carl R. Fox

R. Allen Baddour

Where is my court room at the Wake County Courthouse?

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There are many ways to find your courtroom once you have arrived at the Wake County Courthouse:  


  • Visit www.nccourts.org. On the right hand side of the website select the ‘Criminal Court Dates’ link.  Select the county in which you were charged and enter your last name followed by a comma and immediately following type your first name (no spaces). Once you have located the charge you will be able to determine which court room you will need to be in and what session (AM OR PM) you will have to attend.  If you’re in courtroom 101 you can usually show up any time from 7:45 to 3:30.


  • There are few other ways to find your courtroom when you go to court.  As soon as you walk into the Wake County Courthouse you will notice a few screens. These screens list names and courtrooms for the day.  It’s a long list and usually takes a while. You may also ask the clerks which courtroom you are supposed to be in.



  • If you are a client of The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC we always notify our clients of  their courtroom ahead of their court appearance so they don’t have to waste time looking at the scrolling screens.



Directions to the Wake County Courthouse

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The Wake County Courthouse (Wake County Justice Center) is located in Downtown Raleigh at 300 S. Salisbury Street. The Courthouse is at the corner of Salisbury and Martin Street. There are two different entrances located on Salisbury Street (Salisbury entrance) and McDowell Street (Nash Square entrance).

The Wake County Public Parking deck is located on 216 W. Cabarrus Street Raleigh, NC 27601 on the corners of Davie Street, Cabarrus Street, and McDowell Street.  You may pay for parking with cash or debit and credit card. Checks are not accepted. Please remember to keep your ticket and pay upon exit. The parking deck is open 24 hours 7 days a week.  There are other paid lots and metered street parking available surrounding the courthouse and parking deck.  Most of the time we usually find good metered parking spaces available within a block or two of the courthouse.

Carolina-Bail-Group-Wake-County-Court-Location-316-Fayetville St.-Raleigh-NC-27610-Contact-919-792-4901

May 2014 North Carolina Primary Election Information

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In the May 2014 primary election voters will narrow down the field to the candidates who will face off against each other in November.

– One of the election law changes enacted by the Republicans in the Legislature reduced the total number of days allotted for early voting from 14 to 10:

– Early voting begins Thursday, April 24 and ends Saturday, May 3.

– Election Day is Tuesday, May 6.

– Runoff elections, if necessary, for local and state races will be held June 12–24.

– Runoff elections, if necessary, for U.S. Senate and U.S. House will be held July 3–July 15.

There are also fewer early voting locations this year. Here’s a list, although some locations are not open each day of early voting:

Wake (wakegov.com)

Wake County Board of Elections, 337 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh

Herbert Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave., Cary

Knightdale Recreation Center, 102 Lawson Ridge Road, Knightdale

Lake Lynn Community Center, 7921 Ray Road, Raleigh

Hunt Recreation Center, 301 Stinson Ave., Holly Springs

Durham (dconc.gov)

Durham County Board of Elections, 706 W. Corporation St.

North Regional Library, 221 Milton Road

South Regional Library, 4505 S. Alston Ave.

Orange (co.orange.nc.us/elect)

Orange County Board of Elections, 208 S. Cameron St., Hillsborough

Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St.

Seymour Senior Center, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill

N.C. Hillel, 210 W. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill

Master’s Garden Preschool, 7500 Schley Road, Hillsborough

Chatham (chathamnc.org)

Chatham Board of Elections, 984-E1 Thompson St., Pittsboro

Cole Park Plaza, Suite 232, 11470 U.S. 15-501 (behind Subway), Chapel Hill

Fitts Community Center, 111 S. Third Ave., Siler City

Across the street from Dollar General, 40-A Coral Ave., Goldston

How to vote absentee:

TUESDAY, April 29, at 5 p.m. is the final day to submit a request for an absentee ballot from your local board of elections office. The ballots must be received by Tuesday, May 6, at 5 p.m.

There are some tougher requirements now…

You must be registered to vote or submit a voter registration application with your ballot request. You must provide proof of identification: N.C. driver’s license number or ID card number and the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you don’t have these, you must send current, valid photo ID, an official document showing the name and residential address of the voter: current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, etc.

When you get your ballot, you must have two witnesses or a notary present as you complete and sign it. Ballots will not be counted without this.


337 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh, 919-856-6240, absentee@wakegov.com


706 W. Corporation St., Durham, 919-560-0070absentee@dconc.gov


208 S. Cameron St., Hillsborough, 919-245-2353dcheshire@orangecountync.gov


984 Thompson St., Pittsboro, 919-545-8500dawn.stumpf@chathamnc.org

An Explanation of Misdemeanor Charges in North Carolina

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There are two main classes of crimes in North Carolina: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are divided into four different categories (A1, 1, 2, and 3), depending on the seriousness of the offense. The final outcome in any particular case depends on the individual facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal record, and any agreements that the defendant enters into with the district attorney’s office.

To make things even more confusing we have infractions which do not have jail time (i.e. some driving charges) and we treat drunk driving (DWI) as its own totally separate system on punishment system.

Class 3 Misdemeanor

A Class 3 misdemeanor, the least serious type of misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of twenty days in jail and a $200 fine. Class 3 misdemeanors include simple possession of marijuana, concealing goods in a store, DWLR, 2nd degree trespass and city code violations.  Now if you have less than four prior convictions on your record you can only be charged with a fine for a class 3 misdemeanor – so jail time and probation Is officially off the table for many in North Carolina.

Class 2 Misdemeanor

A Class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of sixty days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Class 2 misdemeanors include simple assault, disorderly conduct, resisting a police officer, and carrying a concealed weapon.

Class 1 Misdemeanor

A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine. Class 1 misdemeanors include possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny, DWLR if your license was revoked for DWI, possession of stolen goods, damaging real or personal property and communicating threats.

Class A1 Misdemeanor

A Class A1 misdemeanor, the most serious type of misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of 150 days in jail and a discretionary fine. Class A1 misdemeanors include assault with a deadly weapon, assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a female, assault on a government employee and violation of a restraining order.

What are my Options?

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, your case will be heard in District Court. You may have a number of options in your case.

  • Your attorney can negotiate a plea deal where plead guilty to a lesser charge.
  • Your attorney can show the District Attorney what a strong case you have or why the charges are bad and the DA will dismiss the case.
  • If witnesses do not show up to court the case can ultimately be dismissed if the witness never shows up.
  • Depending on your criminal record, you may be eligible to participate in a community-service or substance-abuse counseling program that will result in dismissal of your case.  This is called a deferral program.
  • You can plead “not guilty” and request a trial.

What happens if I have a trial? 

If you request a trial, the State must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. District-court trials take place before a judge who hears evidence and determines whether the State has proved your guilt. This is called a “bench trial.”  You do not have the right to a jury trial in District Court.  If the judge finds you not guilty, the case ends and you may go free. If the judge finds you guilty, the judge will impose a sentence in your case ranging from a small fine, to probation, to an active prison sentence. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor in District Court you can appeal your conviction to Superior Court. Once in Superior Court, you are entitled to a new trial before a jury of twelve randomly-selected members of the community.

What will show up on my record afterwards?

Unfortunately whenever anyone is charged with a crime (not matter how totally bogus the charges are) the record remains forever unless it is expunged.  We handle expungements for dismissed cases and also expungements for certain crimes where there is a conviction on your record.  For many the worst part of a crime isn’t the punishment it’s the effect on their ability to earn a living.  Even if the charge was a mistake and you had nothing to do with a hypothetical assault case you will still have to explain to a prospective employer why you have a dismissed assault charge on your record – unless it is expunged.  We will fight hard to protect your reputation and will explain the rules to expunge your charges if you are eligible.

Contact Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorney Wiley Nickel 

A Wake County misdemeanor charge requires a skilled and experienced lawyer. If the State of North Carolina does not have sufficient evidence to prove that you committed a crime you may be entitled to a dismissal or a reduction of your charge. Or if the State violated your Constitutional rights during the investigation or prosecution of your case, a judge may suppress certain evidence in your case, meaning that the State cannot use the evidence against you at trial and dismissal is usually in order. Contact our Wake County law office today for a free consultation about your particular misdemeanor case.  Raleigh attorney Wiley Nickel will walk you through the steps for your case and offers free consultations.  You can reach The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC at our office located in Cary, NC at 919-948-7159.

Speeding Ticket Basics

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Speeding tickets, DMV points and insurance points: What you need to know to keep your car insurance rates low.

Many people often ask me how speeding tickets work in North Carolina.  Basically you’re looking at three issues.

  • Keeping your driver’s license!  A guilty plea to a ticket of 15 miles per hour over the limit (or greater) will mean at least a 30 day revocation of your driver’s license.  Never plead guilty to a speeding ticket without first consulting an attorney.  We offer free consultations for anyone charged with speeding in Wake County.
  • Insurance Points.  Did you know that if you get a speeding ticket in Wake County you may also get anywhere from 1 to 4 insurance points?  Just one point on your driving record can cause your car insurance premiums to go up by as much as 30 percent a year.  Four points can drive your premiums up by as much as 80 percent!  The most important thing for most of my clients is keeping their car insurance low.  When someone gets a traffic ticket the goal is to not get insurance points as well.
  • DMV Points.  If you collect enough DMV points you can also lose your license.  Generally if you get over 12 total points your driver’s license will be suspended.

How do you fight these things?  Hiring an attorney is the best place to start.  There are two important things to know about speeding tickets.

  • Reductions!  The Wake County District Attorney’s Office sees thousands and thousands of speeding tickets a year and they will generally offer you a reduction in exchange for a guilty plea on a reduced charge.
  • NC SDIP.  You may be allowed one speeding ticket for up to nine miles per hour over the limit every three years without an increase in your insurance premiums.  This is called the North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Program.  Depending on your record a reduction of your charge to 9 over the limit might be a great option.
  • PJC’s!  North Carolina has this unique system that involves a Prayer for Judgement (PJC).  This judge-made rule allows a judge to grant you a PJC after you have pled guilty to a charge.  If a judge grants you a PJC it likely means no insurance points and no DMV points on your record.  You are allowed one PJC every three years (per household) for insurance point purposes and two PJC’s every three years for DMV point purposes.

All cases are unique.  If you have received a speeding ticket or know someone who has please tell them to call my office for a free consultation about what we can do to help.  The number to our office in Cary is 919-585-1486.