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Expunction (or, Expungement) and Why It’s Not as Easy as You Might Think

Ferguson Hayes Hawkins, PLLC Jan. 25, 2017

In North Carolina, expunctions (or expungements) are not nearly as common, or as easy to obtain, as most people believe.  In fact, expunctions are limited to three general categories: (1) first-time, nonviolent offenses committed more than 15 years ago, (2) first-time offenses committed under the age of 18 (or 22 in some cases), and (3) a charge that was dismissed or disposed of as “not guilty.”

Most expunctions require legal petitions, affidavits, and even formal hearings in some cases.  However, the third category — charges that have been dismissed or disposed of “not guilty” — does not require affidavits or a hearing.

Most people are surprised to learn that a charge remains on their record, even if they are found “not guilty” or the charge is ultimately dismissed.  For example, let’s say you were charged with assault 20 years ago, but you were found “not guilty” because the evidence showed that you were defending yourself and the other person was the true aggressor.  If someone (like a potential employer) runs a background check, they won’t see anything about self-defense.  All they’ll see is that 20 years ago, you were charged with assault.  As we all know, people are quick to judge — for some, the simple fact that you were charged is enough to make you a criminal in their eyes.

If you’re unsure whether you qualify for an expunction, give us a call.