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North Carolina’s New Expungement Law: What You Need To Know

In December of 2017, Governor Roy Cooper signed a new expungement law, Senate Bill 445, that went effective immediately. To help you and the 10 million other NC residents understand how the effects of the new statute, the expungement attorneys at Manning Law Firm put together this guide to expungement law in NC.

What Changed?

One of the goals of the new law is to reduce the wait time to expunge non-violent misdemeanors and felony convictions. This way, the millions of NC residents with criminal convictions can clear their records faster. The most important components of the change are detailed below:

  • Misdemeanor convictions can now be expunged after 5 years instead of 15.
  • Felony convictions can now be expunged after 10 years instead of 15.
  • There is no more limit on how many dismissals can be expunged.
  • Prosecutors and law enforcement personnel will have access to all records.

Expunging a Criminal Record in NC

To expunge a criminal record in North Carolina, you must file your petition at the county courthouse where you were charged. You must fill out the specific AOC form that applies to you. The forms are based on your age, charge and outcome of the case, among other things.

In order to qualify for expungement, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Met the required waiting period for the record you want to expunge
  • Paid all your court-ordered costs and provide proof that you did
  • Cannot be on parole or probation with any court, anywhere
  • Have no warrant for your arrest or a criminal summons
  • Have no open criminal cases
  • Have no pending criminal charges

Expunging a Felony Conviction in NC

If you are charged with a felony in NC, you are eligible for a dismissal or a non-guilty verdict. However, if your case results in a conviction, the wait period depends on the charge and your age. Violent felony convictions are typically never eligible for expungement.

Expunging a Misdemeanor Conviction in NC

If you are charged with a misdemeanor in NC and it results in a non-guilty verdict, you are immediately eligible for expungement. If you are found guilty, the wait period for expungement depends on your age and the specific charge.

Expunging a Larceny Conviction in NC

Any non-guilty verdict results in immediate eligibility for expungement. However, if you are convicted of Misdemeanor Larceny in NC and you are over the age of 18, you are eligible for expungement 5 years after your conviction. If you are under the age of 18, you are eligible after 2 years.

Expunging a Drug Charge in NC

Depending on the charge, the new expungement law stipulates wait periods ranging from 12 months to 10 years for those under age 22 at the time of the conviction. If your charge is dismissed there is no wait period. You may also be required to successfully complete the 90-96 program, after which you are immediately eligible.

Expunging a DWI in NC

DWI convictions are excluded from the non-violent misdemeanor classification and are never eligible for expungement. If your DWI charge is dismissed or your achieve a non-guilty verdict, you are immediately eligible for expungement.

How long does the expungement process take in NC?

Regardless of the charge, the expungement process typically takes between 9 – 12 months in North Carolina.

Will expunged charges show up on a background check for jobs?

No. However, non-expunged charges and/or convictions will show up on an employer’s background check. This includes any dismissals, infractions, prayers for judgement, pending charges and non-guilty verdicts.

Where to file for expungement in NC

When expunging a charge or conviction in North Carolina, you must go to the county courthouse where you were charged. For example, if you were charged with a crime in Wake County you must file your petition in Raleigh, NC at the Wake County Courthouse.

Do I need a lawyer to expunge my record?

You need a lawyer to expunge a charge. While a lawyer is not required in NC, the expungement process is lengthy and extremely complicated. To file, you must do so under the applicable statute, using the correct AOC form, fill it out and potentially go to Court. An error along the way can lead to a major delay in what is already a year-long process.

You should without a doubt at least speak with an experienced expungement attorney before filing your expungement petition. They will be able to review your case and guide you through the process stress-free. See how the attorneys at Manning Law can help expunge your record.

Speak with an attorney today to file for expungement.

Manning Law Firm has 40+ years of experience practicing law in North Carolina and our attorneys are eager to help you clean your record and free yourself from your past. If you qualify for expungement, contact us today to begin the expungement process.

Taylor Manning
The content on this page was reviewed by Manning Law Firm, PLLC partner Taylor Manning. You can learn more about Taylor's experience and expertise on his bio page.