Mr. Eastman serves as the firm’s managing partner, and is licensed to practice law in California, Oregon, and Texas.
Sam has helped thousands of clients expunge, seal, and set-aside records across the country, and has a passion for criminal justice reform. Previously, Mr. Eastman represented a number of corporate clients, focusing on tax law, mergers and acquisitions, and a variety of corporate transactions.
Mr. Eastman earned his JD and LLM from the University of San Diego School of Law, and his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon.
EXPUNGEMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA CONVICTION RECORDS
You Don’t Always Need to Be Looked at as Guilty
Nobody wants a criminal record. They can make it tough to get a job, hard to find a decent place to live, and even take away constitutional rights like your Second Amendment right to own a gun. Once you’ve finished your sentence and paid your debt to society, you shouldn’t be permanently branded and punished for the rest of your life. Fortunately, North Carolina has passed expungement laws to provide relief to many with criminal records. Qualifying for expungement in North Carolina has recently become easier with the passage of its Second Chance Act of 2020, which will go into effect December 1, 2020.
If you’re convicted of a crime in North Carolina, there are many criminal justice agencies that create and maintain your record. The arresting agency, county clerk, Department of Public Safety, and North Carolina Bureau of Investigation create criminal records that typically never go away.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has an online criminal records search portal that makes it incredibly easy to find any criminal record. Anyone with an internet connection can find detailed information about some of your most private information in a matter of minutes. The only way to remove your record from criminal justice databases is typically through expungement.
North Carolina law allows for the expungement of both felony and misdemeanor convictions. If your firearm rights were restricted due to a felony conviction that you’ve expunged, it should also restore your firearm rights. Our law firm has helped thousands of clients get rid of criminal records of every kind, and we hear success stories from them often. If a criminal record is currently holding you back, keep reading to see if we can help.
This Information is for You
Since the majority of people reading this aren’t lawyers, we’ve tried to simplify the legal jargon on our website, so regular people may follow along and get the information needed to understand their rights. However, before we get started, we should be clear that some of this information can get complicated, and, in many cases, it’s best to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
To help you understand your rights, our lawyers have developed a tool that can be helpful in figuring out your options. This tool can’t be perfectly accurate in every situation, but our lawyers have invested substantial time and resources working to make it as accurate as possible.
You can get started by using our Secure Eligibility Test, or you can give us a call at (844) 947-3732 to see if our legal staff is available for a free consultation. Be aware that our staff is often busy with current clients and a high volume of calls and appointments. If you’re serious about getting rid of your record, your best bet is to take our Secure Eligibility Test and then schedule an appointment to discuss your results and options.
Do You Qualify to Expunge Your Conviction?
North Carolina State law provides for the expungement of both misdemeanor and felony convictions under several parts of GS 15A-145.
You may only expunge “nonviolent misdemeanor” and “nonviolent felony” convictions in North Carolina, and there are offenses considered “violent” felonies that you would not expect. Most of the requirements are the same for expunging a single felony or misdemeanor and for multiple misdemeanors, which are discussed below. The following requirements apply to both misdemeanor and felony expungements under GS 15A-145.5 which include:
- It must be a “nonviolent misdemeanor” or “nonviolent felony” you’re expunging
- You cannot have any outstanding warrants or pending cases
- You cannot expunge any ineligible offenses, which are listed below
- You may not have too many convictions on your record based on the rules below
- You cannot expunge a Class A through Class G felony or Class A1 misdemeanor
- You cannot expunge an offense that requires or required registration as a sex offender
- You must satisfy the waiting period that applies to the level of offense you’re expunging
- You cannot be convicted of any new crimes during applicable waiting period
- You cannot have any outstanding restitution orders that have not been satisfied
- You have not expunged a previous conviction, unless it was a juvenile conviction
NOTE: North Carolina has different rules for youthful offenders that are typically more lenient. These rules may apply to you if, (1) the offense occurred before you turned 18, or (2) your offense involved drug possession and it occurred before you turned 21. These youthful offender rules are described in more detail below.
1. Ineligible Offenses
The following types of convictions aren’t treated as “nonviolent misdemeanors” or “nonviolent felonies” and cannot be expunged in North Carolina.
It is important to remember that a conviction for any of these offenses will usually disqualify you from eligibility to expunge otherwise eligible “nonviolent misdemeanors” or “nonviolent felonies” from your record. This is discussed in greater detail in the next section.
- Any Class A, B, C, D, E, F, or G Felony
- Any Class A1 misdemeanor
- Any offense that includes assault as an essential element of the offense
- An offense involving impaired driving as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(24a).
- Any offense that requires you to register as a sex offender pursuant to Article 27A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes
- An offense where that involves methamphetamines, heroin, or possession with intent to sell or deliver or sell and deliver cocaine
- Any felony offense where a commercial motor vehicle was used in the commission of the offense
- Felony impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1.
- Breaking or entering with intent to commit any felony or larceny (G.S. 14-54(a))
- Breaking or entering with intent to terrorize or injure an occupant of the building (G.S. 14-54(a1))
- Breaking or entering into or breaking out of railroad cars, motor vehicles, trailers, aircraft, boats, or other watercraft (G.S. 14-56)
- Statutory rape of person who is 15 years of age or younger (G.S. 14-27.25(b))
- Statutory sexual offense with a person who is 15 years of age or younger (G.S. 14-27.30(b))
- Dissemination of obscene materials to minors under the age of 16 years (G.S. 14-190.7)
- Dissemination of obscene materials to minors under the age of 13 years (G.S. 14-190.8)
- Indecent Exposure (G.S. 14-190.9)
- Secretly peeping into room occupied by another person (G.S. 14-202)
- Duty to report noncompliance of a sex offender (G.S. 14-208.11A)
- Sex offender unlawfully on premises (G.S. 14-208.18)
- Stalking (G.S. 14-277.3 and 14-277.3A)
- Prohibit babysitting service by sex offender or in the home of a sex offender (G.S. 14-321.1)
- Placing burning cross on property of another or on any public place (G.S. 14-12.12(b))
- Placing exhibit with intention of intimidating another (G.S. 14-12.13)
- Placing exhibit while wearing mask, hood, or other disguise (G.S. 14-12.14)
- An offense committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin raises a Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class 1 misdemeanor, or raises a Class A1 or Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class H felony (G.S. 14-3(c))
- Contaminate food or drink to render one mentally incapacitated or physically helpless (G.S. 14-401.16)
- Any felony offense set forth under G.S. 20-141.4 when conviction is based upon impaired driving or a substantially similar offense under previous law.
- First or second-degree murder under G.S. 14-17 or involuntary manslaughter under G.S. 14-18 when conviction is based upon impaired driving or a substantially similar offense under previous law.
- An offense committed in another jurisdiction which prohibits substantially similar conduct prohibited by the offenses in this subsection.
- Impaired driving in a commercial motor vehicle under G.S. 20-138.2, except that convictions of impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1 and G.S. 20-138.2 arising out of the same transaction shall be considered a single conviction of an offense involving impaired driving for any purpose under this Chapter.
- Habitual impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.5.
2. Maximum Number of Convictions on Your Record
North Carolina’s new expungement law greatly expands expunging convictions, but there are limits on how many convictions you may have on your record. You may also not have any of the ineligible offenses listed above on your record – a conviction for an ineligible offense will typically prohibit you from expunging anything from your record. These rules can also be somewhat restrictive if you have multiple felony convictions, but it is important to make sure you are counting your convictions correctly.
Counting Your Convictions
If you were convicted of more than one nonviolent misdemeanor or felony in the same session of court, each of those convictions count as one conviction for purposes of determining if you’re eligible to expunge your conviction.
How Many Convictions Can Be on Your Record?
If you have multiple convictions on your record, North Carolina’s expungement law can be somewhat restrictive. To be eligible for expungement, the following rules apply:
- You may only have one felony conviction on your record, unless each of your felony convictions were from the same session of court;
- There is no limit to the number of misdemeanor convictions you may have on your record;
- You may not have any convictions for an ineligible offense listed in the section above.
3. Waiting Periods to Expunge Convictions
The amount of time you need to wait to expunge a conviction depends on what level of conviction you’re trying to expunge, and what’s on your entire record. To do that, you need to make sure that you’re counting the number of convictions correctly.
Remember, if you were convicted of more than one nonviolent misdemeanor or felony in the same session of court, each of those convictions count as one conviction for purposes of determining if you’re eligible to expunge your conviction. However, the waiting period for each of the convictions will be the longest of all the convictions.
Three Different Waiting Periods
North Carolina has three different waiting periods, depending on what you’re trying to expunge, and what type of convictions are on your record. These waiting periods start once you have finished all the requirements of your sentence.
- 5 Years: If you are trying to expunge one misdemeanor conviction, you can’t have any other misdemeanor or felony convictions on your record.
- 7 Years: If you are trying to expunge more than one misdemeanor conviction, you cannot have any convictions on your record that are on the list of ineligible offenses listed above.
- 10 Years: If you’re trying to expunge a felony conviction, you cannot have any other misdemeanor or felony convictions on your record.
No New Convictions During the Waiting Period
You cannot have any misdemeanor or felony convictions during your waiting period. If you’re convicted of any new misdemeanors or felonies during your waiting period, you will not be eligible to expunge the conviction.Traffic violations during your waiting period do not count as violations of this rule.
4. Youthful Offenders
This section is only applicable to you if you’re evaluating a conviction for (1) an offense that occurred prior to you turning 18, or (2) a drug conviction that happened before you turned 21 years old. The rules we are covering apply to those who’ve been convicted of adult offenses committed prior to turning 18, not actual juvenile offenses. If you have a juvenile criminal record, please visit our North Carolina Juvenile Expungement page.
If your conviction is the result of an offense that occurred prior to you turning 18 years old, the rules to expunge your criminal record are more lenient, and include:
- The offense you’re trying to expunge was committed prior to December 1, 2019;
- You were at least 16 years old when you committed the offense;
- You must be trying to expunge a misdemeanor, Class H felony, or Class I felony;
- You do not have any outstanding restitution orders that have not been satisfied;
- You cannot have any outstanding warrants or pending cases;
- The conviction cannot have required you to register as a sex offender; and
- The conviction cannot be a motor vehicle violation, including any offense involving driving while impaired.
Youthful Drug Convictions
If you were 21 years old or younger when you committed certain [KK1] drug crimes, you may qualify for expungement, even if you otherwise would not qualify under the standard rules discussed above. These special provisions apply to both felony and misdemeanor drug possession or drug paraphernalia crimes. These special youthful drug conviction rules are slightly different for convictions before and after January 1, 2012[KK2] .
Drug Possession Convictions After 2011
If you were convicted of misdemeanor or felony drug possession for a controlled substance within Schedules I through VI of Article 5 of G.S. Ch. 90 or possession of drug paraphernalia, …[KK3] . This is very expansive, covering almost all types of drug possession.
Drug Possession Convictions Before 2012
If you were convicted of misdemeanor or felony drug possession prior to 2012, the types or drug possession that qualify are more restrictive. Unlike convictions from after 2011, you cannot expunge misdemeanor possession of Schedule I drugs or felony possession of any substances except for less than one gram of cocaine.
North Carolina’s Drug Scheduling
For help in determining whether your drug possession qualifies, the following is a summary of North Carolina’s drug scheduling:
- Schedule I: Heroin, Ecstasy, GHB, Methaqualone, Peyote, Certain Opiates
- Schedule II: Cocaine, Raw Opium, Opium Extracts-Fluid and Powder, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Methadone, Methamphetamine, Ritalin
- Schedule III: Ketamine, Anabolic Steroids, Some Barbiturates
- Schedule IV: Valium, Xanax, Rohypnol, Darvon, Clonazepam, Barbital
- Schedule V: Over the counter cough medicines with codeine
- Schedule VI: Marijuana, Hashish, Hashish Oil
General Requirements for Expungement
If your drug possession conviction is the type that can be expunged under North Carolina’s youthful drug possession laws, you can generally expunge your conviction if you meet the following requirements:
- You have no prior felony convictions;
- You do not have any prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance;
- You have not obtained a youthful drug expungement before;
- It has been at least one year since your conviction;
- You have completed a drug education program (unless waived by the court);
- You have shown good behavior since your conviction.
Legal Effects of Expunging Your North Carolina Felony Conviction Records
The two biggest issues our law firm’s clients encounter relate to obtaining employment and restoring firearm rights, so we’re going to discuss each.
How will expunging my felony conviction help me get a job?
Expunging a conviction is the best way to improve your chances of obtaining a job with a criminal record. Expunging your conviction deletes your record, releases you from the judgement of guilt, and allows you to legally state that you have not been convicted of the expunged conviction in almost all cases. However, if you are seeking employment in law enforcement or seeking certification by a state agency, North Carolina law may require you to disclose your conviction.
Will expunging my felony conviction restore my Second Amendment right to own and possess a firearm?
Expunging a felony conviction is typically the best way to restore your firearm rights in North Carolina. In addition to restoring your Second Amendment rights, it also expunges your conviction in the public record, which has a host of other benefits unrelated to firearm rights.
When you can’t expunge your felony conviction, you may be able to restore your firearm rights by using a separate process under GS 14-415.4. This method of restoring your firearms does not expunge or seal your conviction, but it does restore your firearm rights under both state and federal law.
We will go into more detail regarding restoring Second Amendment rights in North Carolina on our North Carolina Firearm Rights Restoration page, but restoration typically involves both state and federal law that should be handled by an experienced lawyer. The lawyers in our firm regularly handle complex firearm rights restoration issues, so a good first step in exploring whether you can restore your firearm rights would be to take our Secure Eligibility Test. Then, if appropriate, set up a time to speak with our legal staff about how to proceed.
What You Need to Do to Get Rid of Your Conviction
If you are tired of having a criminal record hold you back, reach out to us by taking our Secure Eligibility Test or by giving us a call at (844) 947-3732. Our law firm has helped thousands of people with criminal records move on in life, leaving many of the negative effects of a criminal record behind. Our experienced attorneys and legal staff are here to help you figure out which criminal record clearing services best fit your needs, and then help you accomplish your goals. Using our secure, confidential Eligibility Test is the best way to get the process started.
Some of the potential benefits of expunging your criminal record in North Carolina include:
- Removing a finding of guilt from your criminal record to help you get a better job
- Becoming eligible for professional licenses you previously did not qualify for
- No longer being treated as a felon
- Possible restoration of Second Amendment right to possess a firearm
- Increased eligibility for student loans, housing assistance, and government programs
- Improving your ability to obtain higher-paying job opportunities
- Improving access and admission to college and other educational resources
Each of North Carolina’s methods for dealing with your criminal record have different requirements and are meant for different circumstances. To move forward, it’s important to determine which North Carolina criminal record services are available to you, and then select the services that will provide the greatest benefit. Eastman Meyler, PC is here to help you navigate this very specific area of North Carolina criminal law, fight to protect your rights, and assist you in moving forward in life without the effects of a North Carolina criminal record.
You can trust that you will get exceptional service from our law firm, as we have an A Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and prestigious attorney rating services such as Thompson Reuters and Avvo list our attorneys as Super Lawyers and Superb Attorneys. Our law firm has attorneys licensed to practice law in all North Carolina state courts, provides low price guarantees, and is here to fight for you and put your criminal record behind you!