To start the process, you will need to file a petition in the Wake County Courthouse or where your charge originated. Keep in mind that when you look for the applicable form to file, there will be about 20 different choices. The specific type of form you choose will vary based on your age, the nature of your charge, and the outcome of your criminal case.
Expunging a Misdemeanor
If your misdemeanor charge has been dismissed, or if you’ve been found not guilty, your charge is immediately eligible for expungement. If your charge resulted in a conviction, your waiting period will vary based on your age and the nature of the charge.
Expunging a Felony
As with a misdemeanor, if you’ve been convicted of a felony and want to clear your record, your waiting period will depend on your age and the nature of your charge. However, felony convictions that involve violence are unlikely to be eligible for expungement.
What Types of Crimes Can be Expunged?
The new North Carolina law allows expungement for the following crimes:
- Misdemeanor larceny convictions for those over the age of 18 at the time of the offense – with a five-year waiting period.
- For those under 18 at the time of the offense, the wait period is two years.
- Assault charges that result in dismissals nor not-guilty verdicts
- Assault convictions for those over age 18 on the date of the offense are not eligible.
- For those under 18 at the time of the offense, there is an opportunity to petition for the removal of charges, but the District Attorney can object.
- DWI convictions
- Drug convictions – depending on the age of the defendant and the nature of the charge
What Do I Need to Know About the Process?
First of all, it’s important to understand that it is not instantaneous. Generally, the expungement process can take close to a year to finalize. It can take longer to remove a felony charge.
Number of charges
The new law allows you to erase an unlimited number of eligible charges that have been dismissed – no matter when they occurred – as long as you have no felony convictions.
Visibility of charges on your record
While expungement does mean that your charge will be removed from your official state criminal record, it may be accessible by prosecutors who have special access to criminal charge information. Also, law enforcement officers have access to newly expunged charges.
There is no fee involved in expunging straight dismissals, but you will need to pay a filing fee of $175 to expunge a conviction.
The law does not require you to hire a lawyer to petition the court to clear your record. Nonetheless, any errors in the process can lead to a lengthy delay, so it is best to engage an experienced criminal defense attorney at the outset to help you.
Attorney Cotten has served hundreds of satisfied clients through Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties. If you have questions about expunging your criminal record, give him a call or click over to the main page to chat with a legal assistant.