A permanent criminal record can impact your life in so many ways. Therefore, many individuals with a misdemeanor conviction or felony offense would jump at the opportunity to expunge those charges off their record. Some are willing to exhaust time and money with an expungement criminal attorney to erase their criminal record, conviction, or charge.
Before you undergo this legal process, understand how it works and its potential benefits will pay off.
What is Expungement?
The American Bar Association defines expungement as removing or erasing a record of a criminal conviction, such as if that criminal conviction never occurred. It wipes the conviction or charge off a person’s public records.
You must distinguish between expungement and ‘forgiveness’. Whereas the President or government officials give pardons, expungement is ordered by the judge or court.
How Does Expungement Work in NC?
If you wish to erase a criminal charge or conviction from your record, you must learn how the process works in NC. The expungement laws in NC were revised in 2017 to incorporate two significant changes.
The first change is that there is now a distinction between felonies and misdemeanors. Non-violent felony cases have a reduced waiting period from 15 years to 10 years before expungement can be applied for. Meanwhile, the waiting period for non-violent misdemeanor cases has been reduced from 15 years to 5 years. The waiting period applies from the conviction or sentencing date, whichever comes later.
Another update to the expungement law in NC is the charge dismissals and findings of not guilty cases will no longer be subject to limitations to the number of times that expungement can be applied for.
Benefits of Expungement
The expungement process is a long and exhausting legal proceeding. So, what makes the process worthwhile? Here are the benefits of expungement in NC:
1. Improve Employment Opportunities
When applying for a job, most employers will ask for your criminal record (on top of other requirements). Expunging a criminal charge or conviction from your record allows you to pursue more and better job opportunities. Once your criminal record has been sealed, you are not legally required to disclose your criminal history during job applications.
2. Secure a Loan
Aside from job applications, qualifying for a loan can be difficult when you have a criminal conviction. You won’t be automatically denied when filing for a loan, especially those with high-interest rates, on the sole basis of your past criminal history.
3. More Options for Housing
When you have a criminal conviction or charge on your record, finding a place to live or rent can be difficult. Many landlords perform a background check on tenants, and a criminal past would automatically disqualify you from a housing option. But once you have erased those criminal records under your name, you have the equal opportunity to find rental properties or housing options.
4. Education Opportunities
Juvenile criminal records can be a barrier for individuals hoping to enter college or seek higher educational endeavors. When you expunge your criminal records, there is no way for schools to deny your applications solely because of your criminal past. You can pursue educational opportunities like many others.
5. Remove the Stigma of the Criminal Record
It does not matter if you were charged or convicted for a non-violent crime; it is still a stigma for most people with a criminal record. Expressing those charges and convictions enables you to remove the stigma of being considered a ‘criminal’ and seek equal opportunities like any regular citizen.