The District Attorney recognizes that people sometimes make mistakes involving minor criminal charges early on in life that have a significant impact later when seeking to further their employment or education. We have seen instances where one old, minor conviction stood in the way of a promotion or access to an educational degree.
While the District Attorney supports the removal of these minor matters from a person's record, the process of Expunction of Records is governed by a set of statutes that makes it essentially a civil proceeding that you have to initiate.
This means that the District Attorney is absolutely prohibited from representing you in this proceeding or giving you any legal advice whatsoever. We strongly recommend that you hire an attorney to represent you and give you legal advice on the available options for dealing with these prior matters of record.
Prior Dismissed Charges
All criminal charges are entered into a statewide database by the Clerk of Superior Court. This is the database that is accessed when requesting an official record check certified by the Clerk. When a charge is dismissed, the Clerk enters the code indicating that the charge is disposed by dismissal. However, the charge itself, along with the fact that it was dismissed, remains on a person's record and will appear on record checks.
North Carolina Law allows an individual to Petition the Court to expunge all record of this charge entirely. At the end of this process, the Clerk shreds the physical file and removes the matter from the statewide database. The law allows the person to thereafter treat the prior incident as if it had never happened for purposes of most employment and educational applications.
If you so choose, and you have all of the required information, you can file a Petition for Expunction for a dismissed charge yourself. You will have to fill out the Petition in its entirety, print it out, and sign it according to the instructions on the form. You then take the form to the Criminal Records Division of the Clerk of Superior Court to turn it in.
That only STARTS the expunction procedure. The Petition has to go through an administrative chain to verify that it meets the requirements of the statute before it comes back to the original Judge to sign the Order of Expunction. Unfortunately, this process currently runs between 4 and 8 months in total. Once the final Order is signed, the Clerk mails a certified copy of it to you at the address you listed.
The following resource links are provided for reference:
The Expunction of prior convictions is governed by a series of statutes starting at N.C.G.S. 15A-145. The statutes are divided by the type of offense, the age of the offender, and the length of time a person is required to wait before becoming eligible to Petition.
There is also a statutory procedure called a Motion for Appropriate Relief that can be filed in a case to ask a Judge to strike the original Judgment so that a dismissal can be entered.
Both of these procedures for seeking relief from prior convictions are complex and often burdensome. In addition, the Expunction statutes in North Carolina have evolved at a rapid pace in the past 10 years. The law in this area changes frequently.
For all of these reasons, the District Attorney strongly recommends that anyone seeking relief from a prior conviction obtain legal counsel to provide advice and explain the applicable options. As previously stated, the District Attorney cannot represent you in this proceeding or offer any legal advice whatsoever.
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