New North Carolina Law
By December of this year, first-time, non-violent offenders in North Carolina will be given new opportunities for criminal record expungement. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 445 into law on July 28, 2017. The legislation was a bipartisan effort to simplify and increase access to expungements. It’s is a major improvement because previously, the state had strict expungement laws with long waiting periods.
Related content: How to expunge a North Carolina criminal record
The intention of SB445 was to allow those with criminal records to move on from their past mistakes. Furthermore, it aims to help ex-offenders become contributing members of society, by providing opportunities to obtain work, housing, and education. “Criminal justice shouldn’t end at incarceration. It should end at restoration,” Gov. Cooper said at the bill’s signing. “We want North Carolinians who have corrected their mistakes to go on to live purposeful, productive lives.”
The new law allows for the immediate expungement of any charges that were found “not guilty” or dismissed. It also reduces the wait time to apply for expungement of non-violent misdemeanors or felony criminal records. Once the offense is expunged, the person may truthfully deny ever being charged with or convicted of a crime.* The wait time for expungements is now reduced to a period of 5 years for a misdemeanor conviction and 10 years for a felony conviction. Still, the law should greatly streamline the process of expunging a criminal record.
Support for SB445
The N.C. Justice Center is just one interest group that supported the bill. Daniel Bowes, an attorney at the Justice Center stated, “We are excited to celebrate these new laws for the positive impacts they will have in the lives of tens of thousands of individuals and families across our state. But, our ultimate goal is for men and women with criminal records to have a fair chance at gainful employment, safe and affordable housing, school admission, and other essential opportunities without having to hide their criminal record.”
The law was passed to assist ex-offenders who want to make amends for their actions and become an asset to their community. Also, many of these people deserve fresh start. Although our firm does not currently offer services in North Carolina, check back for future updates. Or, if you have a criminal record elsewhere, take our newly updated, confidential eligibility test to see if we can help.
Update as of January 2021: North Carolina has passed expungement laws to provide relief to many with criminal records. Qualifying for expungement in North Carolina has recently become easier with the passage of its Second Chance Act of 2020, which will go into effect December 1, 2020.
*This does not apply to a sentencing hearing when the person has been convicted of a subsequent criminal offense.