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NC Expungement Law Taking Effect December 1, 2017

We have been receiving an influx of phone calls from clients who are curious about the new NC expungement law that will be effective starting December 1, 2017.  So I wanted to take this time to share this new information with you as well as provide some general knowledge about NC Expungement Law.

Starting December 1, 2017:

  • The wait time is reduced for an expungement of a first-time nonviolent felony from 15 years to 10 years.
  • The wait time is reduced for expungements of a first-time nonviolent misdemeanor from 15 years to 5 years.
  • This new law provides for expungement of all dismissed and “not guilty” charges if the person has not been convicted of a felony. (Previously, you could only receive one expungement in a lifetime but now there is no limit).
  • This new law also provides North Carolina prosecutors with electronic access to records expunged on or after December 1, 2017.
  • The State will now treat a conviction expunged on or after December 1, 2017 as a prior record if the person re-offends.

Many people ask me, “So once my charge is dismissed it will be off my record?”  This is a very common misconception and the answer is no.  In North Carolina, once a charge is dismissed it will remain on your record indefinitely.  If anyone were to run a background check on your criminal record, your charge would appear but it will mostly like contain the word “Dismissal without leave.”  This means your case is dismissed and the State does not have leave to reopen your case for further litigation. However with the expungement you can have the charge removed from your record.  According to NC Expungement Law, you are eligible for expungement immediately upon dismissal of your charge(s).  But the laws for expungement in North Carolina get ever more complicated when depending on the seriousness of the offense and whether your charges were dismissed or you were convicted.  For example, A DWI conviction is explicitly excluded from the definition of a non-violent misdemeanor and are thus never eligible for expungement.

For more information about whether your charges can be expunged or the expungement process, please visit or website or contact our office and speak with one of our Attorneys at 919-335-5291.

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