J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question: “What is an expungement?”
Today was a big day for those advocating change to harsh criminal laws that allow young offenders to be charged in the adult criminal justice system. Currently, New York and North Carolina are the only two states in the country where 16 and 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults. Though this still remains true, New York took a huge step to rectifying some of the problems caused by trying juveniles as adults.
Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: A past conviction is keeping me from finding work what can I do?
The State of Georgia has employed a woman to protect its most vulnerable children despite her convictions for forgery and on charges stemming from a 2011 road-rage incident.
The woman—Paige Newsome—was employed last May in Cherokee County by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services as a child-protection investigator. Applicants for employment by the State of Georgia are required to report any convictions or pending criminal charges on their employment applications. Newsome reported four traffic convictions, and she noted that charges were pending against her related to defrauding her father out of more than $1,700 by forging his name on checks.
Newsome failed to report that she pled guilty to charges in Louisiana stemming from a 2011 Interstate 20 road-rage incident in which Newsome allegedly pointed a revolver at another driver after cutting in front of him. The State of Georgia discovered the road-rage conviction but hired Newsome anyway.
A month after Newsome began working for the Division of Family and Children Services, she pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery for signing her father’s name to checks without his permission. She was fined $250 and placed on probation for a year.
Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “A past conviction is keeping me from finding work what can I do?”
In a shocking statistic that would likely stun most North Carolinians, 1.5 million out of the state’s 9.5 million residents had a criminal record at the end of 2010. Even more amazing is that according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, North Carolina saw a 30 percent increase in the number of residents with criminal records between 2006 and 2008.
Thankfully, recent reforms have helped stem the rising tide, and between 2008 and 2010 the total number of people with criminal records actually fell by one percent. How does that happen? Thanks to efforts by lawmakers to create new ways for people to erase and expunge their old criminal records. Recent efforts which allow adults to expunge first-time nonviolent misdemeanor crimes or low-level felony convictions have helped allow some people to clear their records and pave the way for a better future.
The recent push to allow for expungement of old criminal records is based on the understanding that even old convictions or charges can seriously harm an individual’s ability to be successful. After the recession began, hiring became a much more difficult process and many people discovered that even convictions from decades ago were enough to cause them to lose job opportunities. Given the ease of conducting criminal background checks, almost all employers and landlords are finding out about previous legal trouble. Rather than only deny those who recently committed violent felonies, these landlords and bosses are denying people with decades-old arrests on their records. Beyond lost jobs and difficulty securing housing, criminal records can also lead to the loss of public benefits, state license and can even interfere with child custody cases.
Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?”
A potentially important bill has been introduced in the North Carolina legislature that could change the way law enforcement agencies handle marijuana possession offenses. The legislation, House Bill 637, would lower penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses.
The legislation would reduce penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Those found to have such a small quantity of the drug would only be subject to a fine, changing the classification of possession to a civil infraction rather than a criminal offense. The bill would also reduce the punishment for those found guilty of possessing between one and one and a half ounces of marijuana by making the crime a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Currently, North Carolina law says that possession of a half ounce of marijuana or less is a criminal misdemeanor and is punishable with a fine of up to $200 and a possible suspended jail sentence. Possession of between a half-ounce and one and a half ounces is punishable with up to 45 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. Possession of more than one and a half ounces of marijuana is punishable with up to 8 months in prison and a fine.
Watch Attorney Brad Smith answer the question: “What is an expungement?”
The nearly 1.6 million people in North Carolina who have a criminal record are likely rejoicing over news that the state will now allow for the expungement of most misdemeanors and some felonies. The new clean slate law is the first of its kind in North Carolina.
The recent passage means that North Carolina will join at least 17 other states that permit first-time offenders to expunge a criminal charge under certain conditions. As long as their crime was minor and their conviction was at least 15 years ago, they will get a chance to start over with a clean slate. However, no violent convictions will qualify for expungement. Those seeking expungement must fill out paperwork which will ultimately be considered by a judge who will rule on the issue.
Though many believe that criminals should be punished for their wrongdoing, one mistake should not tar a person for life. Once an individual has paid his or her debt to society, that person should be allowed to become a productive citizen by finding and keeping a job that can support a family. Our attorneys understand that a criminal conviction can close a lot of doors to otherwise skilled and hardworking people, many of whom are simply looking for a second chance.
View our brief commercial on the recent changes to the Expungement Law in North Carolina.
Good news for those people in North Carolina who have a conviction on their record. Many people’s criminal history are blemished by a conviction that resulted from a brush with the law or a youthful indiscretion that made it onto your criminal record. Thanks to a new North Carolina law, some of these people may now be eligible to have those blemishes erased.
The new law says that as of December 1, 2012, adults in North Carolina who have been convicted of a crime, including some felonies, can request that their records be expunged. There are some important stipulations to the new rule. For one thing, the conviction must be at least 15 years old. For another, an individual must not have been convicted of any other crimes, other than traffic offenses.
The array of crimes that fall under the umbrella of the new expungement law include white collar offences such as embezzlement, larceny, shoplifting and passing bad checks along with some non-violent drug crimes. The law has not shaken out entirely and some issues remain to be settled, such as whether offenses like DWIs or hit-and-runs would qualify for expungement given that they are technically traffic offenses. The legislation is clear that some crimes will not be considered for expungement and these include sex crimes and drug crimes involving methamphetamine and heroin.