Expungement wait times for some non-violent felonies reduced

As of December 1, wait times for expunging many non-violent felonies have been reduced to 10 years.

When a person is convicted of a crime, their sentence is supposed to end once they have served their time and paid their debt to society. However, as anybody with a criminal record knows, it can often feel like punishment continues long after one has reentered society. Having a criminal record makes it extremely difficult to land a new job, get a loan, or qualify for a place to live, which in turn can make it feel like an uphill battle to try to get by. Fortunately, a new law recently went into effect that reduces or eliminates wait times for expungements for many people.

New law in effect December 1

The new law went into effect December 1, 2017, reports the Wilkes Journal-Patriot. Perhaps the most significant change the law brings about is that it reduces from 15 years to 10 years the wait time for expunging a conviction for a first time non-violent felony. However, some offenses remain ineligible for expunction, including A1 (most serious) misdemeanors, misdemeanor or felony assault, and driving while impaired.

The new law also eliminates entirely the wait time for expunging records of charges that were either dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict. To get a criminal record expunged, it is necessary to file an application at the county courthouse where the charges were initially filed.

Giving people a chance

Expungement essentially means that records of certain arrests or convictions will no longer be publically viewable on one's criminal record. However, it does not mean that those records disappear entirely. Instead, while the public won't be able to see them, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies will still have access to expunged records.

Nonetheless, expungement is a powerful tool for getting back on one's feet after an arrest or conviction, especially since it means employers, landlords, and banks won't have access to arrests or convictions that have been expunged. As the News & Observer notes, the reduced expungement wait times are part of a broader justice reform effort, which includes raising the age at which teenagers are automatically tried as adults to 18 starting December 2019.

Help with criminal records

It is important to remember that criminal records do not get expunged automatically. Rather, a person with a record of an offense that is eligible for expungement must submit an application to the court. A criminal defense attorney can help those who are trying to move on from their past file an application for expungement. Of course, for those who are facing criminal charges, a defense attorney is also essential for helping ensure those charges don't end up straddling one for years to come.

North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.