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Upcoming Changes to NC Expunction Laws

Effective December 1, 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly has implemented a few changes to existing North Carolina expunction laws. We always hope that new expunction laws mean expanded opportunities for expunction; however, that is not the case this time around. Instead, the General Assembly has narrowed expunction opportunities for North Carolinians as laid out below.

NCGS 15A-145.5 This expunction statute covers some individuals who have been convicted of certain “nonviolent” offenses, have met the required 15-year wait period and meet certain other requirements. Effective December 1, 2014 the General Assembly (“G.A.”) has further narrowed what qualifies as a “nonviolent” offense. Specifically, the G.A. added new section (a)(7a) which disallows the expunction for most Breaking or Entering offenses. Further, the G.A. has now added section (a)(9) which prohibits any “offense that is an attempt to commit an offense described in subdivisions (1) through (8)[.]”

These changes become effective for all petitions filed on or after December 1, 2014 but will not apply to any petition filed prior to that date.

NCGS 15A-146 This expunction covers dismissed charges for individuals meeting certain requirements.  In the past, this expunction did not require a filing fee; but this was changed recently by the G.A. to implement a $175 filing fee only for individuals whose charges were dismissed by a deferred prosecution agreement. Effective December 1, 2014, those whose charges were dismissed pursuant to a conditional discharge are also required to pay the $175 filing fee. However, indigent petitioners are still eligible to have this filing fee waived.

NCGS 15A-145.5(f) Finally, the G.A. made one additional change which has an unclear effect at this time. The G.A. has amended NCGS 15A-145.5(f) – which explains proper implementation of expunction laws in North Carolina as far as what must be expunged by who. This section has now been amended to remove the phrase “or to fingerprint records.” The sentence in question limits the effect of expunctions by saying the requirements “shall not apply to the Department of Justice for DNA records and samples stored in the State DNA Database and the State DNA Databank.” It is unclear whether this change by the G.A. now means that the Department of Justice must expunge fingerprint records or whether the G.A. simply considered the language redundant and includes it as a part of the “State DNA Databank.”

As always, we will keep you updated of changes in North Carolina expunction laws. We have handled hundreds of expunctions and are widely recognized for our abilities in this area. We would be happy to help you determine if you are eligible for an expunction and if so, to assist you in cleaning up your past records. If you think you are potentially eligible for an expunction, give us a call at 336-574-2788.

For more information, contact the Clifford Division of Clifford Clendenin & O’Hale.

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