If you are a resident of North Carolina and you were convicted of committing a crime when you were younger, you may pay the price for years to come if you have a criminal record. Fortunately, the North Carolina Judicial Branch provides a process called expunction, where a criminal charge or conviction can be destroyed or sealed, erasing the proof of the crime. This can help you to put your mistakes behind you and move on with a successful life.

 To have your record expunged, you must meet specific requirements that are set in statutes according to different criminal charges, the severity of them and other factors such as your age when the crime was committed. These statutes can be extremely complicated and hard to understand, but a criminal defense attorney can help to simplify the process.

If your record is eligible for expungement, a petition is filed in the county clerk’s office where the original charges were filed. A judge must sign the paperwork and depending on the expungement, there may also be affidavits that need to be filed.

At this point, the petition is mailed to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations for a criminal records search. Any search results are attached and forwarded to the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Court. These findings are then sent back to the county clerk, but the process can last anywhere from three to six months.

If there are no findings by either organization that could affect the expungement, a hearing is scheduled with the district attorney and the court. In some cases, the judge may grant the expunction before a formal hearing. If this is not the case, you may have to attend a formal hearing and make your case while the district attorney makes theirs. If the petition is granted, notification is sent to the applicable arresting agencies and records of the offense are destroyed.

 This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.