NC Senate Bill 445: What are the new expunction laws?
- The waiting period to expunge first-time nonviolent misdemeanor convictions has been reduced from 15 years to 5 years. This means that people who want to expunge misdemeanor larceny, drug possession, or other nonviolent larcenies still have a significant waiting period before they can have their charges expunged, but the wait is not as burdensome as it once was. Only non-violent misdemeanors that are unrelated to domestic violence can be expunged.
- The waiting period for first-time nonviolent felonies has also been reduced. The new waiting period is 10 years, as opposed to 15 years. Those who want to expunge felony convictions still must wait a long time; however, many people with felony drug convictions from 2007 or earlier could seek an expunction once the revised law goes into effect.
- People who have multiple dismissed charges or charges that resulted in a not-guilty verdict can now seek more than one expungement in their lifetime. Previous versions of the expunction law only allowed people to seek one expunction in their lifetime. Even if the petitioner sought only to expunge dismissed charges, they were barred from doing so if they had already used their one expunction.
In addition, charges and convictions that are expunged after December 2017 – when the changes go into effect – can be accessed by district attorneys’ offices and can be considered as prior offenses for sentencing purposes in future criminal cases.