Expunctions in North Carolina

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question:”What is an expungement?”


When an individual is charged with a crime and sentenced to either prison time, probation, or some other form of reparation, it is expected that the individual carries out that sentence.  However, once the terms of the sentencing are over, the record of their conviction stays with them, often impeding their ability to find gainful employment and advance in society. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help individuals have these charges removed from their record through a process called expunction. Read on for what North Carolina residents should know about expunctions in their state.


eraser-North-Carolina-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Expungement-Lawyer-300x225Expunctions Defined


Expunctions, also known as expungements, are a legal process used to remove a criminal conviction or criminal charge from an individual’s record. Expunctions also seal or destroy the state’s record of the arrest, charge, and/or conviction. As any experienced criminal defense attorney can attest, a person who has successfully gone through the expunction process typically cannot be found guilty of perjury for denying that the arrest or conviction ever happened.  However, federal immigration decisions may override any expunctions that a person has placed on their record related to the immigration offense.


Eligibility for Expunction


The ability to have a criminal charge expunged from a person’s record varies based on the nature of the charge as well as other factors. For example, some charges are only eligible for expunction when the individual was charged in between a certain age range, such as 18 to 21 years old.  Some charges are only eligible for expunction depending on how the charge ended (e.g. the charge was ultimately dismissed or the defendant was found not guilty).


Although consultation with an experienced local criminal defense attorney is always the best course of action when determining whether or not a specific charge is eligible for expunction, the North Carolina Judicial Branch maintains full texts of all statutes that cover expunctions of different charges. That text can be found here.


How Soon Can You File for Expunction?


The time limit for filing for an expunction will vary depending on the statute relating to the particular charge. For example, some charges may be eligible for expunction almost immediately after the case has closed, whereas other charges require the individual to wait a period of months or years after sentencing to apply for expunction. If probation or parole has been administered, it is typically expected that the individual will complete these requirements before applying for expunction. Once again, consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney will be the most precise source of guidance on expunction eligibility.


How Do You File for Expunction?


The forms necessary for filing for expunction can be found online, but it is customary to utilize the services of a criminal defense attorney to assist in the process. Filing for expunction takes place with the clerk of court in the county where the individual was charged or convicted.


Getting Professional Legal Counsel


The process of applying for expunction can be confusing to navigate for the average American citizen, especially when they are attempting to build their lives after sentencing.  For years, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have been helping residents in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina as they navigate the expunction process. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today 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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