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Originally published: 2012-12-01 18:38:28
Last modified: 2012-12-01 18:39:15

Law allows nonviolent offenders to clear records

A law change that went into effect Saturday allows one-time, nonviolent offenders of all ages to expunge their criminal records in North Carolina.

The change applies only to people convicted of certain felonies or misdemeanors who, for 15 years afterward, have no other convictions other than traffic violations in any jurisdiction.
The law can apply even to multiple felonies or misdemeanors if a person was convicted of all within the same court session.

Some offenses may not be purged from a criminal record, including:
— those containing assault as an essential element
— certain sex-related or stalking offenses
— those involving methamphetamine, heroin or possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine
— burning crosses in public places, intimidation by displaying items such as a noose, or intimidation while wearing a mask, hood or other disguise
— those in which a person contaminated another’s food or drink to render them helpless
To purge a record, the North Carolina resident may petition the court at least 15 years after the conviction date or after any active sentence, probation or post-release supervision has been served, whichever is later.

The petition — which includes a $175 fee — must contain an affidavit by the petitioner that he or she has been of good moral character, statements from two unrelated people verifying the person’s good character and reputation, and affirmation that the petitioner has no outstanding restitution amounts or civil judgments.

The request then goes to the District Attorney’s office, which has 30 days to decide whether to object to the expunction. The district attorney also must make his best efforts to notify the victim of the crime, if one exists.

If a hearing on the matter is successful, the petitioner’s record is wiped clean, both in court and law enforcement records.

State and local law enforcement agencies will still have the ability to review expunged records for employment purposes, according to the law. The agencies that certify law enforcement officers also can review the expunged records, which are to be kept in confidential files with the Administrative Office of the Courts.

North Carolina law already allowed a person to expunge certain crimes committed before age 18 or 21, but the changes now in effect expand the provision to adults of all ages. Expunction also is possible when charges are dismissed, when a person is found not guilty or not responsible, and when a person is pardoned.

Visit http://bit.ly/expunctionlaw to read the entire law online.