In December 2017, the availability of the expunction (or expungement) process for convictions had been drastically improved by Senate Bill 445. Now we are looking at yet more changes. On June 25, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 562, a.k.a. The Second Chance Act, which will ease previous requirements, allowing even more individuals with a criminal history to have a chance at clearing their record. 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 expunction laws that will apply to offenses committed by individuals of at least 18 years of age:
In addition to felonies and misdemeanors, infractions will be eligible for expunction as long as the charges were dismissed or for which a finding of not guilty or not responsible was entered. Also, it will 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 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, not requiring 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 team at Collins Law Firm has 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, please give our office a call at (910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation to discuss your eligibility.
By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal