Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question:”What is an expungement?”
We have previously discussed a new law that takes effect in North Carolina on December 1, 2017. The measure deals with expungements and aims to streamline the process, making everything easier and faster for those looking to clean their record. Though we have discussed the existence of the new law and what it hopes to achieve, we have not yet spent time delving into details about the kinds of crimes that are eligible under the new expungement law. For more information about that, keep reading.
Before we dive into the specifics, we should refresh our memory about the newly revised expungement law. Previously, those who wanted to expunge a first-time, non-violent felony or misdemeanor conviction had to wait 15 years, either from the date of conviction or the date the person finished serving his or her sentence, to petition for expungement. The new law cuts the wait time to 10 years for first-time, non-violent felonies. What about first-time, non-violent misdemeanors? The wait time for those will be dropped to only 5 years. Additionally, the new expungement law eliminates the one-shot rule that currently exists for dismissed charges or not guilty verdicts. Those interested in expungement for this narrow categories of legal issues will now be able to expunge an unlimited number of such charges.
What crimes can be expunged?
The law is aimed at low level felonies and misdemeanors that are non-violent in nature. Class 1, 2 and 3 misdemeanors are generally eligible for expungement. That means things like possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of stolen goods, damage to property, disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana, concealing goods in a store and many others are included under the scope of the new law. The same goes with felonies that are in Class H and Class I. These include things like possession or small sales of controlled substances, some property crimes, larceny, embezzlement, and obtaining property through false pretenses.
What crimes cannot be expunged?
Given that the law is aimed at expunging non-violent offenses, it is crucial that the conviction at issue not include assault as an essential element. That means things like burglary, armed robbery, murder and arson are all off the table. The conviction must not also require registration with the Sex Offender Registry, so things like sexual assault and forcible rape are also excluded from expungement eligibility. Convictions related to possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine are also not eligible for expungement under the current law. Felony offenses that involve the use of a commercial motor vehicle are excluded from expungement. Also, any offense involving impaired driving is excluded. Additionally, Class A1 misdemeanors are also ineligible for expungement. This includes things like assault with a deadly weapon, violation of a restraining order and sexual battery. Beyond these, there are still other exceptions. Given the detail involved, it is essential that you reach out to an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney for help navigating the complex expungement process.
Once the expungement happens, is it really true that the conviction goes away? Yes, thankfully. Under the new law, those who conduct a typical background checks will not be able to access information concerning the conviction. For example, employers and schools who might be interested will not be able to find the information in your criminal record once it has been expunged. That said, there will still be a trace left for prosecutors and law enforcement officials to locate. An electronic reference to the expunged records will remain, but access will be limited to law enforcement officials.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, please contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our attorneys stand at the ready to defend you against state or federal charges. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.
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