A few years ago the answer to this question was a resounding “No,” but thanks to the NC Legislature we now have two relatively new statutes which allow felony convictions to be expunged from a person’s record. Felony convictions can now be removed in certain instances and restoration of gun and voting rights of persons throughout North Carolina may occur.
The ability to expunge a felony first came along in 2011, when Chapter 15A-145.4 was enacted. This statute provided a legal process in which the records of “first offenders” that were under “the age of 18” at the time of the commission of a “nonviolent felony,” could be expunged, completely removing the history of said arrest and conviction from the person’s criminal record. An individual seeking to expunge the conviction under this statute needs to have a clean criminal history from the date of the conviction(s) being expunged, meaning no additional convictions other than traffic violations. The convictions can be expunged 4 years from the conviction date or completion of any sentence, whichever is later.
Chapter 15A-145.4 of the North Carolina General Statutes applies to all felonies and misdemeanors with the following exceptions:
Class A through G felonies:
A felony that includes assault as an essential element of the offense
Any offense requiring registration on a registry, such as a sex offender registry
Certain sex related or stalking offenses
Offenses in which a commercial vehicle was used in the commission of the offense
Offenses that involve methamphetamines, heroin or possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine
Crimes related to contaminating food or drinks to render one mentally incapacitated or physically helpless
In some cases, the individual might be precluded from seeking an expungment under these statutes if they received a previous expungment; for instance, prior expungements received in certain drug offenses or in dismissed charges.
If an individual was convicted of more than one nonviolent felony or misdemeanor in the same session of court and none of the nonviolent felonies or misdemeanors are alleged to have occurred after the person had been served with criminal process for the commission of a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor, then the multiple convictions shall be treated as one conviction under this section and all of those convictions shall be expunged from a person’s criminal record.
Effective December 1, 2012, the Legislature further expanded the ability to all persons to have misdemeanors as well as “non-violent felonies” expunged from a criminal record. Chapter 15A-145.5 of the North Carolina General Statutes is very similar in language and is subject to the same exclusions as stated above and in addition, also excludes A1 misdemeanor convictions. However, this statute does differ concerning the timeframe. Convictions under this statute can be expunged no sooner than 15 years from the conviction date or completion of any sentence, whichever is later.
A petition for expunction under either of the statutes discussed above shall contain, but not be limited to, the following:
Affidavit of good moral character since the date of conviction
Verified affidavits of two persons, unrelated to the petitioner, that they know the character and reputation of the petitioner in the community and that such are “good”
Completion of a form authorizing a background check to search for convictions and outstanding warrants
Affidavit from the petitioner that there are no outstanding restitution orders or civil judgments.
And, if applying for expungement for offenses committed under age 18, petitioner must also perform 100 hours of community service and must also show proof that petitioner possesses a high school diploma or GED
Once the petition for expungement has been received by the court, the District Attorney has 30 days within which to file an objection. If no objections are filed, the petition will be approved, allowing the removal of such convictions from local and state-wide databases.
Note that this is only a brief summary of the statutory provisions on this topic. These statutes are very long and detailed, and can be difficult and overwhelming for someone without legal experience to understand. It is important to discuss your rights and eligibilities with an attorney accomplished in this practice area. Our firm is experienced in this field and can assist you in addressing your individual questions, eligibility, and available options.