Written by Corey V. Parton, Parton Law Firm, PLLC
Research by Brandon Forbes, 3L, Charlotte School of law
Everybody makes mistakes. Most people regret them, learn from them, and move on. But for 1.6 million out of 9.5 North Carolinians, these mistakes have resulted in a permanent criminal record. In addition to serving as a constant reminder of one’s past transgressions, a criminal record can create real and substantial obstacles for those seeking employment and affordable housing. For example, 90% of employers conduct criminal background checks. In North Carolina, criminal charges can only be removed from one’s record by court order. Generally, these court orders are only available for: drug and alcohol related crimes, charges that were dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict, non-violent felonies, and gang or prostitution related offenses. The following is a brief breakdown of North Carolina’s expunction statute and crimes to which it applies:
The most commonly used section of the expunction statute is N.C.G.S. § 15A-146, which provides for the expunction of charges resulting in a dismissal or not guilty verdict, as long as the petitioner has not received a previous expunction. Since this is the only portion of the statute requiring the petitioner to have no previous expunctions, the prudent practitioner will seek a N.C.G.S. § 15A-146 expunction first when attempting to clear up a cluttered criminal record. North Carolina case law has not yet addressed whether expunging multiple dismissed charges stemming from a single incident is a proper use of this section of the statute.
N.C.G.S. § 15A-145(a) provides for the expunction of misdemeanors committed when the defendant was under the age of 18 (or under 21 for possession of alcohol) after two years have passed.
N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.1 allows for the removal of certain gang-related offenses after a two-year wait period provided they were committed when the petitioner was under 18.
First time drug offenders who were under 21 at the time of their conviction may be eligible to have their charges expunged two years following their conviction pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.2-3.
Certain non-violent felonies committed by the petitioner when they were under 18 can be expunged under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.4 after four years have passed. The petitioner must also complete at least 100 community service hours. Other non-violent felonies and misdemeanors can be dismissed, regardless of the petitioner’s age at the time of conviction under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5, provided fifteen years have passed since the conviction.
Certain prostitution offenses are eligible for expunction under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.6 when the offense was due to human trafficking and the petitioner has no previous or subsequent prostitution related convictions.
With the exception of N.C.G.S. § 15A-146, all petitions for expunction must be accompanied by an affidavit stating that the petitioner does not have any outstanding civil judgments or subsequent convictions anywhere in the United States. The petitioner must also provide affidavits from two non-relatives in their community attesting to the petitioner’s good moral character.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used or relied upon as legal advice. For specific information regarding your case you should contact a licensed attorney.
Corey V. Parton
Parton Law Firm, PLLC
1300 South Blvd. Suite K-118
Charlotte, NC 28203
Telephone: (704) 971-8618
Fax: (704) 716-9807
 See In re Expungement for Kearney, 620 S.E.2d 276 (N.C. App. 2005).