Although we may strive to be, no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. For some, those mistakes result in obtaining criminal records as teenagers and young adults. A criminal record never goes away and significantly reduces your opportunities in life. One mistake can hinder a person’s ability to obtain a job, can limit access to affordable housing, and can strip away basic rights to vote and possess a firearm.
A common question we receive at Ludlum Law Firm is if we can help remove a criminal charge from someone’s public record. In some instances, a criminal charge can be removed in the form of an expunction. Expungement law in North Carolina is complicated and in recent years has undergone changes and expansions that only serve to further complicate things.
In some circumstances, a nonviolent felony conviction that occurred before the age of 18 can be expunged. To be available for an expunction in this instance, the petitioner must have no prior misdemeanor or felony convictions (except for traffic violations) and no subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions within 4 years since the date of conviction. There are other more basic requirements that must be met.
For those who receive a felony or misdemeanor conviction after the age of 18, an expunction is still possible but the waiting period is longer. An expunction may be available, no matter the age of the petitioner, if they have only one nonviolent felony or misdemeanor conviction, have not received any other misdemeanor or felony convictions (other than traffic violations) since the conviction, 15 years have passed, their sentence has been fully completed, they have no other pending charges, and have not previously had an expunction.
Another common circumstance where someone seeks an expunction is a result of a drug conviction that occurred before the age of 22. An expunction under NCGS 15A-145.2(c) allows for an expunction of a misdemeanor drug possession, misdemeanor drug paraphernalia conviction, and even some felony possession convictions that fall under NCGS 90-95(a)(3). Notice that this type of expunction is allowed for some felony drug convictions that occurred after the age of 18 as long as the petitioner has not reached the age of 22.
While the three previous scenarios are common reasons people seek expunctions, this not a conclusive list. It is also possible to expunge juvenile records, some gang offenses, prostitution offenses, and many other criminal convictions. Even if an expungement is not available, in some cases restoration of one’s right to possess a firearm may be an option. Most people don’t realize that just being charged for a crime will likely show up on their record even if the charges were dismissed or resulted in a not-guilty verdict. That charge itself can often be expunged.
At Ludlum Law Firm, we hope and understand that people can change and we believe that one mistake does not define you. We have successfully assisted former clients in getting criminal charges expunged from their record so that they can pursue the American dream without being labeled as a criminal. Don’t let your past hold you down. If you are in the Duplin County or Sampson County area and have a previous criminal charge or conviction, contact one of our offices. We would appreciate the opportunity to assist you in seeking an expunction or for any other criminal, traffic, civil, estate planning, or real estate matter.