Clean Records Are Possible Under New North Carolina Law

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A law went into effect on Dec. 1, 2012, that should have a positive impact on many North Carolina residents who were convicted of certain nonviolent crimes years ago. Until recently, their criminal records have affected their job prospects, their applications for car loans, their attempts to rent an apartment and a host of other important life activities. Under the new law, those records could go away.

We discussed the law in July when it passed the Legislature and was signed by former Gov. Bev Perdue. Beginning in December, though, the real benefits of the law began to accrue.

Not every past offender will be able to clear up his or her record. As we said, only nonviolent crimes qualify, and only convictions that are 15-years-old or older. Most important, that old conviction must be the last — the former offender cannot have further charges on his or her record during the intervening years.

Nonviolent crimes include white collar crimes like embezzlement, fraud and writing bad checks. Shoplifting and other larceny charges are on the list, too, as are some less serious drug charges. Traffic offenses, too, could qualify, though there is still confusion about whether driving while intoxicated and hit-and-run accidents qualify.

It is important to remember that everyone’s situation is different. It is possible that not all petitions for expungement will be granted. It’s also important to remember that the process is more complicated than just writing a letter and waiting for the good news. Each petition must go through a specific process before it makes it to a judge; even then, the decision is at the judge’s discretion. There is no rubber stamp.

These are all good reasons why anyone hoping to have a youthful infraction wiped off his record should consult with a criminal defense attorney. After waiting for so many years to have this opportunity for a fresh start, it’s vital to make sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.

Source: Fox Charlotte, “New NC Law Wipes Slate Clean for Some Felons,” Morgan Fogarty, Jan. 3, 2013