In today’s job market, it really pays off to put forward the best representation of yourself when you apply for a new job. You wash your hair, brush your teeth, put on clean clothes, and polish your shoes. Why not clean your criminal record, too? Employers are invariably going to ask about your criminal history, and your answer can often make the difference of whether you get the job. Too often I encounter individuals who’ve had charges dropped but because the record of the arrest still appears on a background check, they find themselves rejected for job openings and promotions. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Expunction, also called expungement, is a legal process whereby certain criminal defendants can clean up portions of their criminal history – whether they’re convictions, dismissals, or acquittals. Most people want old convictions – whether for felonies or misdemeanors – wiped off their criminal record. And there are others who want relief because they were charged with a felony or misdemeanor, but the charge was dropped or they were acquitted at trial. And luckily, if you have a charge expunged from your criminal record, you can essentially act like it never happened.
Generally, North Carolina law allows a conviction for a crime committed under the age of 18 (21 if it’s an alcohol-related offense) to be expunged. The law also permits someone to expunge a conviction for certain felonies which occurred while the individual was under the age of 18. First-time drug offenders under the age of 21 are able to have dismissals expunged from their criminal record if they received the dismissal pursuant to NCGS §90-96.
Most importantly however is the recent new law in North Carolina that allows people to expunge one nonviolent misdemeanor or felony conviction that occurred at least 15 years ago, regardless of the defendant’s age at the time he/she was charged with the crime. This new type of expunction hasn’t received enough publicity, so many people are oblivious that old stains on their criminal record can now be removed.
Other types of expunctions exist, but the types I’ve mentioned are the primary ones.
For many people the expunction process is an invaluable tool to open new doors which have appeared permanently closed. So if you’ve ever been charged with a crime, you may be eligible to have your criminal record cleaned up. You’re generally only entitled to one expunction in your lifetime, and many eligibility restrictions do apply.
Contact Mark Lawson at Phillips and McCrea, and set up a free consultation to see if you’re eligible for a clean start.