Unfortunately, those with a criminal history need to disclose their past in many situations, extending their punishment long after they have served their jail time and paid any fees and fines. Getting your criminal record expunged clears your name to the extent that you can truthfully tell others, whether on a job or housing application, that you do not have a criminal record. An Asheville expungement lawyer can review your case, determine if you qualify for expungement, and help you through the process if you have grounds for expungement.
Qualifications for Expungement in North Carolina
Expungement is the legal process by which someone gets a criminal charge or conviction permanently removed from their criminal record. An expungement also includes petitioning the state to seal all records related to a crime, including an arrest, charges, and conviction. For most purposes, your record will be clean if the court grants an expungement, but it can be used in certain situations, like federal immigration cases.
In North Carolina, many laws govern the expungement process and what cases qualify. Examples of charges and convictions that might be expunged include:
- Misdemeanor criminal convictions
- Some gang-related criminal offenses
- Some drug charges, like paraphernalia and possession of small amounts
- Nonviolent felonies
- Prostitution-related criminal offenses
- Identity theft
- Charges that were dismissed by the court
Historically, expungement has been reserved for first-time offenders. However, recent changes in the law open the process up to those with multiple misdemeanors, as long as they were nonviolent crimes.
Many Crimes Cannot Be Expunged
Expungement is reserved for select arrests, charges, and crimes. Many crimes do not qualify for expungement. They include:
- Class A through G felonies
- Intentional contamination of food or drink/poisoning
- Felonies that involve assault
- Felonies that force someone to place their name on the sexual offender registry
- Stalking and many other sex crimes
- Crimes in which someone uses a commercial vehicle
- Drug offenses involving methamphetamine, heroin, or cocaine
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Hate crimes
An experienced Asheville expungement lawyer can review your record and determine if your crime is eligible for expungement.
Steps in the Expungement Process
Your Asheville expungement attorney can guide you through the expungement process. Here is a broad overview of each of the major steps:
You must submit an application for expungement that includes all documents from your original case. Your Asheville expungement lawyer can help you obtain certified copies of court records. It’s common for adults to seek expungement for crimes they committed as minors. If this describes your situation, you must also prove your age at the time of the crime. Your Asheville expungement attorney might also ask you to request signed affidavits from those who can speak to your good character.
File the Petition
Once you have gathered all the application materials and your Asheville expungement lawyer has reviewed them for accuracy, you can file the petition. You must file the petition with the clerk of court in the county where you were arrested.
Review by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI)
After you file your petition for expungement, the NCSBI will review your case. They compare the petitions they receive to the corresponding criminal record to ensure the crime qualifies for expungement.
If the NCSBI determines a crime qualifies for expungement, they send the case to a judge or prosecutor. They will review the information your expungement lawyer submitted for you and what they received from the NCBSI and decide whether to order an expungement. Depending on the situation, you might have to attend a hearing and answer some questions regarding your petition.
Removal of Records
If a judge or prosecutor approves your expungement, they will issue an order to the clerk of court. The clerk must remove all records related to the crime from your criminal history. Keep in mind that if the court denies your expungement, your Asheville expungement lawyer can help you appeal their decision.
Mandatory Waiting Periods for Asheville Expungement
Expungement is not as easy as it sounds. It can be a complex process, especially for those with multiple offenses or high-level offenses. The number and type of crimes dictate how long someone must wait before they can file a petition.
- Single misdemeanors: Those convicted of a single misdemeanor must wait five years before seeking expungement, and they cannot have committed any other crimes since their conviction.
- Multiple misdemeanors: Those convicted of multiple misdemeanors must wait seven years from the date of their last conviction before seeking expungement. They must not be any other offenses during the seven years.
- Felony convictions: The mandatory waiting period for expungement of a felony is 10 years. Like other crimes, no further crimes can be committed during this time.
Your Asheville expungement attorney can review your criminal record and advise you on the mandatory waiting period that applies to your situation.
Contact the Experienced Asheville Expungement Lawyers at King Law Today
Having a criminal record carries negative consequences long after you pay any fines or serve time in jail or prison. Certain groups of crimes are eligible for expungement, which can make your life easier. However, the process can be lengthy and complicated. An experienced Asheville expungement lawyer can help you through the process and help you move on with your life.
King Law has been protecting the rights of its clients and helping them with complex legal issues for more than 20 years. If you need your criminal record expunged or sealed, the skilled legal team at King Law can help. Contact King Law today at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING to discuss your case. You can also contact us online.