Criminal defense lawyers in North Carolina took special note of a host of new laws that went into effect on Dec. 1. Most of the laws add new crimes to the books — the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, for example, and Laura’s Law. Still, two add protections for defendants and nonviolent offenders under age 18.
The stigma of a criminal record is very real. In the past, even a nonviolent, youthful transgression would follow the offender for the rest of his or her life. Under a new law, this need not be the case for first-time offenders who committed a nonviolent felony before they turned 18. The law applies to offenders who plead guilty as well as those who are convicted.
The law allows these young adults to petition the court for expunction of the crime. The offender must wait four years after conviction or after completion of any sentence (whichever is later) before filing the petition, and the offender must perform 100 hours of community service. The offender must also show proof of a high school diploma, a high school graduation equivalency certificate or a General Education Development degree.
The court will remove the crime from the offender’s criminal record after careful consideration of multiple factors, including the offender’s post-conviction record and any objection made by the district attorney.
If the court approves the expunction, the offender will be restored to non-offender status — because the record is wiped clean, the person need not disclose the conviction (or plea or indictment) at any time in the future, even under oath.
We’ll discuss the other laws in our next post.
Source: ABC11/abclocal.go.com, “35 new laws taking effect Thursday in NC,” Gary D. Robertson, Dec. 1, 2011