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According to North Carolina General Statute § 15A-153, the purpose of the expungement process is to “clear the public record of any entry of any arrest, criminal charge, or criminal conviction that has been expunged so that (i) the person who is entitled to and obtains the expunction may omit reference to the charges or convictions to potential employers and others and (ii) a records check for prior arrests and convictions will not disclose the expunged records.” The statute further dictates that you may not be found guilty of perjury by failing to disclose information related to a matter that has been expunged, and specifically addresses potential employers and educational institutions by stating that: “An employer or educational institution shall not, in any application, interview, or otherwise, require an applicant for employment or admission to disclose information concerning any arrest, criminal charge, or criminal conviction of the applicant that has been expunged and shall not knowingly and willingly inquire about any arrest, charge, or conviction that they know to have been expunged. An applicant need not, in answer to any question concerning any arrest or criminal charge that has not resulted in a conviction, include a reference to or information concerning arrests, charges, or convictions that have been expunged."
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Once you have determined that you are eligible for an expungement, the next step is to complete and file a petition for expungement. The type of petition and requirements involved will vary depending on the type of expungement you are seeking. Most petitions must be filed with the criminal clerk’s office. Some petitions require serving the district attorney’s office with the petition prior to filing it with the criminal clerk’s office. From there, the waiting game begins.
The petition must pass through many hands before your expungement is granted. In most cases, the petition must initially be signed by the presiding district or superior court Judge in the county in which the petition is submitted. Then the document will pass through the State Bureau of Investigations office where the criminal record of the applicant will be verified and eventually signed off on if accurate and complete. Next, the document will pass through the Administrative Office of the Courts where an Officer will sign the petition and indicate whether the applicant has had any previous expungements. From there, the document will return to the original county courthouse in which the petition was filed, and the original judge will actually sign the “Order” section of the petition either granting or denying the expungment. Some counties in NC may require a hearing at this stage. Finally, the Clerk of Court in the initiating county will sign the petition indicating that a copy of the granted expungement was sent to the list of public agencies that may have records of the criminal matter(s) associated with the expungement.
Requirements and criteria for expungement may include: community service, affidavits, having a high school diploma, having a clean criminal record besides the charge(s) you are hoping to expunge, the passage of time (0 to 15 years depending on type of expungement), having no prior expungements, etc. There may also be a filing fee associated with an expungement, which will typically range from $0 to $175.
Each type of expungement has different requirements and criteria that must be met to qualify. Some expungements require very little while others may have a number of requirements and criteria. It is important that you are certain that you have met all of the criteria and requirements for your particular expungement prior to filing to have your record erased or else your petition will likely be rejected.
There are a number of private and government related agencies that display mugshots and information about crimes. Information related to your mugshot and arrest is public record, and many companies have sprung up over the years to profit from this policy. Unfortunately, the expungement process typically only involves the notification of government agencies that may have records of your arrest, charges, and or convictions. Notice should flow down to private companies that have a relationship with government entities, but given the number of private companies that may potentially display your mug shot or information about your arrest, it is nearly impossible to put all of these companies on notice about your expungement.
This is incredibly frustrating for citizens as many potential employers and educational institutions will look up applicants on the internet. So you have spent all of this time expunging your record and you still pop up online when employers search for you. Making matters worse, many of these companies will attempt to make you pay them to remove any unwanted images or information.
North Carolina General Statute § 15A-152 may help, and reads in part as follows: “A private entity that holds itself out as being in the business of compiling and disseminating criminal history record information for compensation shall destroy and shall not disseminate any information in the possession of the entity with respect to which the entity has received a notice to delete the record in question. The private entity shall delete the record within the specified time and pursuant to the terms of the licensing agreement with the State agency. If the license does not specify a time for deletion, or if no license agreement exists between the private entity and state agency, the private entity shall delete the record within 10 business days of receiving notice to delete the record in question.”
Given the statute, as well as the potential for damages and an award of attorneys fees associated with an improper dissemination of information, most websites will comply with a removal request when the mug shot or arrest information is associated with an offense that has been expunged. If the website still refuses to remove information, you may be forced to take legal action.
Need help with erasing your criminal record in North Carolina? Our Charlotte criminal record expungment lawyer is experienced and able to help with your matters located in Mecklenburg or Cabarrus counties. Contact Prism today at 704-412-1442 for a free consultation and assessment to determine your expungement eligibility.
North Carolina has carved out a number of statutes which dictate eligibility and requirements for record cleansing in relation to criminal offenses, including: juvenile records; misdemeanors under the age of 18; gang offenses under the age of 18; controlled substances under age 22; toxic vapors under age 22; nonviolent felony under age 18; nonviolent offenses (regardless of age); prostitution offenses; charges resulting in dismissal or not guilty; identity theft; DNA records; pardons of innocence.
Some of these categories are very specific and will only apply in limited situations, while other categories are very broad and may cover a large number of different charges and convictions.
Written by Bill Hunter, Prism Family Law Firm. Updated 04/20/2019
Everyone makes mistakes. For those who have been caught and either charged or convicted of a crime, North Carolina law has created expungement (often referred to as expunction) statutes which provide the guidelines and requirements for erasing your criminal record. Our Charlotte expungement lawyer receives calls and emails often from people wishing to have their criminal records erased, and has put together a list of answers to some of the more common questions asked:
The two main ways to determine if you will qualify for an expungment are as follows: (1) review NC law on expungements (Article 5 of Chapter 15A of the North Carolina General Statutes) or (2) call an attorney that handles expunging records.
Our attorneys field these types of calls regularly and are well versed on expungement laws in North Carolina. In five minutes, we can walk you through the expungement statutes under which you may qualify, describe the criteria and requirements associated with your particular expungement, explain the procedure involved, and provide a quote for our representation if you would like assistance. Our Charlotte expungement lawyer can be reached at 704-412-1442 and primarily handles these actions in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties.
10130 Mallard Creek Rd
Charlotte, NC 28262
The length of time will vary based on a number of factors, including the county in North Carolina in which the expungement was initiated and the type of expungement involved. Our Charlotte based expungement lawyers typically tell our clients in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties to expect a wait of between 8 to 12 months before everything is finalized. The process is not a quick one given the number of offices and agencies that must review and sign off on the petition.