New Law Change for Expungements of Felonies and Misdemeanors for Juveniles

On June 25, 2020, Governor Cooper signed the Second Chance Act into law. The new law, which goes into effect on December 1, 2020, expands who is eligible for expungements in North Carolina. Here, we discuss one specific aspect of the law, which allows those ages 16 or 17 to expunge most misdemeanors and some felonies from their records.  

What Is An Expungement?

First, it is important to understand what expungement means. Sometimes called “expunction” (the two words mean the same thing), expungement is the legal process of removing a criminal conviction from a person’s record. Once expunged, the criminal conviction is treated as if it had never occurred, thus giving the person a better chance of finding employment, housing, and more.

The Second Chance Act’s Change to Juvenile Convictions 

The new law provides that a juvenile’s conviction for either (1) a misdemeanor or (2) a Class H or Class I felony is eligible for expungement if the following criteria are met:

  • The juvenile was 16 or 17 years old when the offense was committed; 
  • The offense was committed prior to December 1, 2019; 
  • The juvenile fulfilled any restitution orders related to the crime; and 
  • Any active sentence, probation, or post-release supervision have been served. 

Who Is NOT Eligible for Expungement?

Certain offenses are not eligible to be expunged, including DWI convictions and certain sex crimes where registry as a sex offender is required. If you meet all of the above criteria but are not sure you are eligible because of the nature of the offense, a criminal defense attorney can assist you in determining whether or not you qualify. 

What If the Crime Occurred On Or After December 1, 2019?

The new law only applies to offenses that were committed prior to December 1, 2019. You might be wondering – what about crimes that were committed on or after December 1, 2019? Does expungement not apply? 

As of December 1, 2019, the “Raise the Age” act went into effect, raising the cut-off age for juveniles from 16 to 18. This means that juvenile offenders under the age of 18 when they committed an offense on or after December 1, 2019, will be dealt with in juvenile court (with limited exceptions). This law essentially eliminates the need for expungement of the records of anyone under age 18 going forward, as those people will be tried as juveniles. 

Contact a North Carolina Expungement Attorney.

The Second Chance Act provides the opportunity for many juveniles to start fresh and expunge their criminal records. While some expungements under the new law are automatic, the ones discussed here are not. Cotten Firm, however, is here to assess your record, file the relevant documents, and set you up for that fresh start. Reach out to us for a free consultation to see how

Attorney Cotten can help you.