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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Archive for January, 2021

The Second Chance Act, Part I – North Carolina

Friday, January 8th, 2021

The Second Chance Act was signed by Governor Cooper on June 25, 2020, with a unanimous passing at the General Assembly. This new bill, in an effort to expand opportunities and streamline services for expunctions (or expungements), will not only benefit individuals with criminal records, but also law enforcement and court personnel.

Charges that are dismissed without leave, dismissed by the court, acquitted, found not guilty, or not responsible on or after December 1, 2021, will be automatically expunged pursuant to the new North Carolina General Statute §15A-146(a4). Until that date, charges that fall under the same category will need to still be petitioned to be expunged, either by the individual or an attorney. In addition, there will be no disqualification based on prior convictions of felonies or misdemeanors. Under the previous law, individuals with prior felony convictions could not obtain an expunction of a dismissed charge. The new statute also involves no waiting period and no limit on the number of expungements an individual can pursue for dismissed charges.  A petition for expunction may be filed by the affected person or by the District Attorney.

According to the new statute, if any person is charged with a crime, either a misdemeanor or a felony, or is charged with an infraction, the charges in the case are expunged by operation of law if all of the following apply:

(1) All charges in the case are disposed on or after December 1, 2021, and

(2) All charges in the case are dismissed without leave, dismissed by the

court, or result in a finding of not guilty or not responsible.

If you or someone you know is interested in having their record expunged in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick County, please give our office a call for a confidential consultation. We also handle serious personal injury and wrongful death cases as well as wills and estates with our of counsel attorney, Mitch Baker.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

2020 was a year of uncertainty, anxiety, and hardship. It may be hard to be optimistic these days, but the prospect of a new year can entice a feeling of hope and optimism.

Country Haven, a neighborhood in Wilmington, North Carolina, helped spread some positivity over the weekend by lining their streets with over 2,000 luminaries. This was a representation of lost loved ones, reflection on 2020, and looking to 2021 with a “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Another light at the end of the “COVID Tunnel” could be the vaccines that are being administered in phases, prioritizing medical workers that deal first hand with COVID patients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two vaccines, one from Moderna and one from Pfizer, that have to be administered in two separate shots – the Moderna vaccine must be given 28 days apart, and the Pfizer vaccine needs 21 days between the shots. Although it widely depends on how quickly the vaccines are received and then administered, North Carolina healthcare officials are hopeful that everyone that wishes to get the vaccine will be able to, by Summer 2021.

In the meantime, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced today that the modified Stay-At-Home Order that introduced the curfew from 10:00 pm – 5:00 am for nonessential travel, will be extended for at least three more weeks.

As reported by WECT, North Carolinians are directed to:

  • Only leave home for essential activities such as going to work or school, for health care purposes, to care for family members or to buy food.
  • Avoid leaving home if you are over 65 or at high risk for developing serious illness. Use delivery services or alternative pick-up methods for food and retail.
  • Avoid gathering with people who do not live with you.
  • Wear a mask and keep distance from people when you leave home.
  • Avoid any indoor public spaces where people are not wearing masks.
  • Stay away from crowds. Avoid places where people may gather in large numbers.

As the year continues, we hope that there will be more good news to come, more positivity and hope to spread, and we can persevere and make it through 2021!

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal