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