A criminal record can have permanent, detrimental effects on your life creating barriers to future employment, education, housing, and federal assistance.
An expunction of your criminal record can restore your status before your existent conviction or charge. While expungements are not available for all offenders, a criminal defense lawyer can help you decide if seeking an expunction may be an option for you. Harmon Law in Boone clients throughout Boone or Watauga County.
Under North Carolina law, people with non-violent convictions on their record may be eligible for expunction. Expungement is when a first time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks to have the records of their earlier trials to be sealed. Once criminal records are sealed, records are unavailable through state or Federal repositories. Expunctions do not include traffic violations, but do cover certain non-violent misdemeanor and felony convictions without limitations on age of the offender.
Expungements are not done automatically. A person must file a petition in the court where they were convicted. The petition must include
An affidavit by the petitioner of their good moral character since the date of the conviction, proving they were not convicted of any other crimes, excluding traffic violations.
Verified affidavits by two persons, unrelated to the petitioner by blood or marriage, to testify to the petitioner’s good moral character.
Statement that the petition is a motion in the cause in the case wherein the petitioner was convicted.
Affidavit by the petitioner verifying the petitioner has no outstanding restitution orders or civil judgement amounts.
The district attorney has 30 days from the filing of the petition to object. The court may grant the district attorney another 30 days to object the position if necessary. Presiding judges may call upon a probation officer or request additional investigation for review and verification of the petitioner’s conduct since conviction.
If the expungement is granted, employers that perform background checks on prospective employees will not have knowledge of the conviction or charge.
Recent North Carolina Expunction Legislation
In December 2017, North Carolina revised their expunction laws to allow broader eligibility for expungements with the General Assembly Act.
Each of the below mentioned terms have exceptions. It is essential to seek legal assistance if you believe you are eligible to expunge your record.
Reduced Waiting Periods
Under the previous terms, a nonviolent felony conviction would need to wait 15 years from their conviction or sentence completion before pursuing an expungement. Today, these terms are lowered to 10 years after the conviction date or completed sentence. Exceptions to expungement terms include Class A through G Felonies and any charge involving assault.
Expungement wait times were lowered from 15 years to only 5 years. Anyone with a DWI conviction, A1 misdemeanor conviction, or assault conviction will not qualify.
Limitless Expunction of Dismissals
The 2017 modification to expunction eliminated the limits on numerous expungements. The former one-time opportunity now allows you to have more than one expungement in your lifetime. As opposed to convictions, there is no wait time for expungement eligibility. If your charges were dismissed you are immediately eligible for your charges to be expunged.
Access to Prior Expunction Records
Under the 2017 General Assembly Act, prosecutors now can access prior expunction records after July 1, 2018. Prosecutors can use subsequent offenses as Prima facie evidence referring to past convictions and lawsuits where evidence before a trial is sufficient for prosecution to use. Prima facie evidence can be used to calculate an alleged offenders prior conviction level if he or she has subsequent offenses.
Speak to a Watauga County Expungement Lawyer
At Harmon Law, we thoroughly examine and verify all charges that may be eligible for expungement. There are stipulations for qualification so it is imperative to pursue legal counsel to determine your best course of action.
If you have faced charges and met conditions for expungement in Watauga County, contact a Boone expunction lawyer at Harmon Law. Don’t live with the burden of a criminal record. Jason Harmon will fight to seal and expunge your records. Fill out our contact form or give us a call for a free consultation.