Anyone can be charged with a crime, and many people are wrongfully accused. Just because someone has been charged does not mean they are guilty. Criminal charges, even wrongful criminal charges, result in criminal records which can affect people for their entire life. Therefore, it is very important that people who are charged take the matter seriously and take appropriate steps to avoid or mitigate the negative consequences of criminal charges. In some cases, it is possible to have criminal records expunged which means the official public records are removed and destroyed by a process called expungement or expunction.
In North Carolina, if a person is convicted of a crime which occurred after they were 18 years of age or older, the conviction cannot be expunged. However, in some cases, it may be possible to reopen a case through a motion for appropriate relief, and thereafter have the charge dismissed. If successful, it may then be expunged. Convictions for misdemeanors which occurred before the defendant was 18 years old may be expunged when certain conditions are met.
Criminal charges for which the defendant was not convicted, i.e. the charges were dismissed or the defendant was found not guilty, may be expunged. However, a defendant may only receive an expungement for a set of charges which all occurred within a 12 month period or which were all disposed in the same term of court. A defendant may only receive one expungement in North Carolina, with a few exceptions.
Criminal charges based on another person using their identity (i.e. identity theft), which are dismissed may be expunged, and there appears to be no limit on the number of charges which can be expunged under this provision. In addition, charges for which one has received a pardon of innocence may be expunged, and there appears to be no limit on the number of charges which can be expunged under this provision. There are also statutes which provide for expungement of some drug charges which are dismissed pursuant to statutory deferred prosecution provisions.
If you have been charged with a crime and want to discuss the possibility of an expungement or expunction, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000.