Having a criminal conviction on your record can be devastating. Without a clean record, it is increasingly difficult and often impossible to find employment or even rent an apartment. Even if your charges are dismissed, they will remain on your record.
The good news is, in many circumstances, you can have your record expunged.
An expunction is one of the most powerful procedures in criminal law - with a clean record, you can get finally get into the school of your dreams or be hired at a new job.
Who can get an Expunction?
It is important to note that not all charges can be expunged and not all people can successfully petition for an expunction.
Typically in North Carolina, the statute is more lenient depending on your age, the type of conviction, and how old the conviction is. It is not possible for someone who has committed assault or who has prior convictions on their record to get an expunction.
What about DWI Expunctions?
Contrary to common belief, it is possible for DWI convictions to be expunged after a long period of time in the state of North Carolina.
Common Criteria for Expunction Eligibility
- You have committed a misdemeanor or Class H or I felony offense only.
- You conviction also cannot require sex offender registry, involve assault, involve a hate crime, or involve the use of certain drugs.
- You have no prior convictions.
- It has been 15 years since your conviction.
The Expunction Process
The cost to file an expunction is $175, which must be paid to the clerk of court at the time of filing. Some counties may require a certified copy of your criminal record, which could add an extra charge to the total cost.
In North Carolina, a person is allowed only one expunction in their lifetime. This expunction may be used for multiple charges, although there is no guarantee that they will all be expunged.
If you are eligible for an expunction, you can file the paperwork yourself or you can connect with an attorney. Usually, attorneys can provide insight to your best options, advise you on the expunction process, and also file the paperwork for you.
If you choose to complete the paperwork yourself, you'll need:
1. Notarized Affidavits
- An affidavit stating that you have been of good moral character since the conviction and that you have not received additional convictions.
- Verified affidavits from two additional people of no relation to you stating that they know your character and reputation, and that your character and reputation are good.
- A statement explaining that the expunction petition is a motion in your case wherein you were convicted.
- An affidavit stating that you have no outstanding restitution orders or civil judgments against you.
2. Form AOC-CR-281
You'll need to fill out this form for your conviction. Be sure to print clearly and legibly, using only black ink. The form is available for electronic submission on the AOC’s website here, for instructions on filling out the form, refer to the following document.
3. File these documents
Serve a copy of all of the affidavits and your filled out AOC-CR-281 form to the district attorney in the county where your charge occurred.
You can either serve these documents in person or mail them with a self-addressed return envelope included. They will sign your AOC-CR-281 form and return your affidavits to you.
4. File the expunction with the clerk of courts
The cost to file this expunction is $175, to be paid to the clerk of court upon the time of filing. Some counties may require a certified copy of your criminal record along with the petition.
5. Court hearing
Each county will have a different procedure, It is possible that there will be a hearing for this type of petition, but the county may waive the hearing.
6. Wait for review
The criminal record process is long, and may take over a year. The procedure is as follows:
- The judge will review your petition
- The petition will then be sent to the SBI in Raleigh
- A background check will be conducted to determine qualification for expunction
- The petition goes back to the original court for a potential hearing.
- The SBI is notified to send notices to the agencies listed on the petition to erase the formal record
Need help with an expunction?
We can help you determine if you are eligible for expunction. If you are, we will advise you on the benefits and results of an expunction and then our office will handle the filing for you. The expunction process is a long wait, we keep track on updates regarding the status of your expunction so you will not have to worry.
While it may be a slow process, the outcome of a clean record makes the procedure well worth the wait.
If you're ready to get started, call us at 828.552.5393 or email us today.