Expunging a criminal record in North Carolina is relatively rare because only a small category of offenses qualify. Technically, it is not an expungment of your entire criminal record as entries are addressed individually, on a charge-by-charge basis. If your application is successful, however, the expungment will clear previous run-ins with the law as it destroys any reference to that particular conviction or prosecution through court order.
What Offenses Can Be Expunged?
Generally, you can apply to have the following entries expunged from your record:
- Misdemeanor convictions: a 5-year waiting period applies.
- Felony convictions: a 10-year waiting period applies. However, violent felonies are never eligible for expungement.
- Dismissals and non-guilty verdicts of any type.
If your application is successful, then the expunged charges or conviction will be wiped from your criminal record. This means it will not show up on an employer’s background check, and is hidden from public view. The courts and law enforcement officials will still be able to see the expunged entries, however, so the record does not entirely disappear.
Petition and Order of Expunction Form
North Carolina's form for requesting and granting an expunction is called a "Petition and Order of Expunction." The two-page application must first be filled out by the petitioner seeking expungement. The rest of the document is completed by government officials upon a full review of the application, supporting documents, records and other findings. The petition requires the following information from you:
- Identity: Full name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, driver's license number, race, sex, and age at time of the offense
- Name and address of attorney, if applicable
- Name and address of arresting agency and any other agencies that were involved. Attach a list of additional agencies if there were more than three.
- Offense information: File numbers, arrest dates, description of the offense, date of the offense, disposition – the court's final determination, and disposition date.
You must also select from a list of certifications regarding your offense and sign the petition.
Read More: How to File a Petition for Expungement
Affidavits Affirm Your Good Standing
You must attach affidavits to the petition. The affidavits must be notarized and must state:
- You are of good moral character since your offense and have had no convictions other than traffic citations.
- You do not owe restitution to any victims or have any outstanding civil judgments.
Two persons unrelated to you and unrelated to one another must provide affidavits stating that you are of good moral character in the North Carolina community where you reside.
Serving the District Attorney
You must serve the petition and supporting documents on the district attorney's office of the North Carolina court where the charge occurred. An assistant to the district attorney signs the middle portion of the first page of the petition to acknowledge it has been served. The district attorney has 10 days to file an objection.
Filing With the Clerk of Courts
The North Carolina county in which you file may require you to attach a certified copy of your criminal record at the time of the petition's filing with the clerk of courts. Filing costs range from zero to $175 depending on the charge. You'll need to pay this to the clerk at the time you file. You may not have to pay the fee if you qualify for a waiver due to indigent status. If you receive food stamps, Social Security Income, or certain other benefits, you may qualify for the waiver.
- If the order is granted, the Clerk of Court deletes the criminal record from files, certifies the order, and then forwards it to the arresting agency. The arresting agency also deletes the files and attaches a \"Final Disposition Report (R-84.) The order is then sent to the SBI, which applies it to the state and federal files.
- North Carolina expungements are structured to be easily do-it-yourself. While you may wish to consult an attorney about circumstances particular to your case, it is not necessary.
- If unsure of the statute your expungement falls under, ask the clerk of court to allow you to look through the North Carolina Law & Procedure Book; the applicable statutes are listed on the Order so you can choose the one that applies. The NC General Statutes are at the local library.
- In some instances, the courts may not grant an expungement. Do not give up. Apply instead for a pardon through the governor of North Carolina. A successful pardon can restore all civil rights and privileges to you, although the record of conviction will still remain (thus, it can not be held against you, but only noted as an existing record).
Karina C. Hernandez is a licensed real estate agent since 2004 in San Diego. She has written legal articles pertaining to housing and real estate for multiple internet channels over the past 10 years. She has a B.A. in English from UCLA.