In North Carolina, it is possible to have a criminal record sealed, or expunged, under certain specific circumstances. This does not exactly mean that the conviction records are destroyed or removed, as law enforcement will still be able to view the records. However, in everyday life, the outcome will be as if the conviction never existed.
When Is Expungement Available?
Expungement is available if:
- The charges have been dismissed or the defendant is found not guilty
- If a different person was arrested or charged using the defendant’s name or identification
- The defendant is at least 18 years of age and wishes to expunge juvenile records, although this will not be available for serious offenses.
- The defendant is a first-time offender, less than 21 years of age and charged with a minor drug possession
- For more serious crimes, the offense must have been served over 15 years ago, and did not involve:
Expungement is not available in North Carolina in the following situations:
- The defendant has a prior conviction for certain misdemeanor or felony. Expungement is only available for first-time offenders
- The defendant has already had a conviction expunged
- The defendant has pending criminal charges
- Expungement is being requested for a motor vehicle violation, such as a traffic infractions.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
A person who wishes to have a conviction expunged must file an application with the court. Generally, this also means submitting pertinent documents to an Expungement Clerk. Such documents may include a "Motion for Expungement of Criminal Record," an "Expungement Order," and a report of the conviction. A North Carolina criminal defense lawyer can help you through this complicated process.