Although many provisions of the Second Chance Act went into effect in 2020—a new law intended to give one in four North Carolinians who have a criminal record a chance at a clean slate—hit a key milestone in December 2021.
Beginning on December 1, 2021, charges for which one was found not guilty or which were dismissed, will be expunged by operation of law pursuant to N.C.G.S.§15A-146 (a4):
(a4) Dismissal, Not Guilty, or Not Responsible on or After December 1, 2021. – 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.
(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.
Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, no case with a felony charge that was dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement will be expunged pursuant to this subsection.
These automatic expunctions do not apply to dismissal which are the result of a deferred prosecution, or which were dismissed pursuant to a plea of guilty to another charge.
Before this new law went into effect, the fact that one was charged with a crime remained on ones records and would show on criminal background checks despite a dismissal or a finding of not guilty, unless the charges were expunged after one petitioned the court for an expunction of record. For charges which were dismissed or acquitted prior to December 1, 2021, one still needs to petition the court for an expunction.
Should you have a criminal record and would like to have your record expunged, please contact Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation to determine your eligibility.
By Michelle K. McDonald, Paralegal