In December 2017, the options for expunctions (or expungements) and the process for removing convictions from people’s records have been drastically improved by Senate Bill 445. More changes are coming soon. On June 25, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 562, a.k.a. The Second Chance Act, which will loosen previous requirements, allowing even more individuals with criminal histories to have a chance at clearing their records. While some changes become effective December 1, 2020, the most sweeping changes – the automatic expunction of dismissals or acquittals by operation of law – will not become effective until December 1, 2021. Below are a few examples of the modifications to the laws regarding expunction that will apply to offenses committed by individuals of at least 18 / eighteen years of age:
In addition to misdemeanors and felonies, infractions will be eligible for expunction as long as the person was acquitted of the charges – i.e., they were dismissed or a finding of not guilty or not responsible was entered. It will also no longer be required that the person had not previously been convicted of a felony to pursue an expunction for a dismissed or not guilty charge.
Felonies, misdemeanors, or infractions for which the person was acquitted, i.e., that were dismissed or for which a finding of not guilty or not responsible was entered on or after December 1, 2021, will be automatically expunged by operation of law, and will not require a petition.
Also, pursuant to The Second Chance Act, a person may file a petition for expunction of more than just one nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, but in that case will have to wait seven years rather than only five years in order to do so.
The professionals at Collins Law Firm have been handling scores of expunctions for over 20 years in New Hanover County, Pender County, and Brunswick County. If you are interested in having your record expunged, or if you have a friend in such a situation, please give our office a call at (910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation to discuss your eligibility.
By David B. Collins, Jr.