Expunctions in North Carolina – Debunking Myths
You may have read our blog regrading the December 2017 changes to Expunctions in North Carolina (which can be read here.) If so, you already know a lot of the important information regarding Expunctions in North Carolina. In this blog, we have addressed some of the common myths regarding NC criminal law and NC expunction.
“If my charge is dismissed, or I am acquitted, the record of my arrest or charge will be erased.”
False. If you are charged with a crime, whether or not you were arrested, the fact that you were charged will be on your record forever (unless of course you get it expunged). Even if you clear your good name and have your charge dismissed or received an acquittal, the fact that you were charged with the crime remains on your record, forever.
You can be assured, however, that the disposition of the case shows up on most criminal background checks. Meaning, how the cased ended (example: dismissal; finding of not guilty; conviction; deferred prosecution) will often be described on the record.
“My criminal record purges itself after X number of years.”
False. Your criminal record is permanent. Without exception. Well, there is one exception – if you receive an expunction. Although many people are under the impression the charges, arrests, or convictions automatically fall off of your criminal record after a set period of time has elapsed, this is simply untrue. North Carolina expunction is the only method in which you can purge your criminal record of arrests, charges, or convictions.
Any crimes that I was charged or convicted of before my 18th birthday will be sealed.
Partially true, partially false. Only your true juvenile record will be sealed. This is the record of your charge and convictions that occurred in North Carolina prior to your 16th birthday.
Any crimes that you were charged with in North Carolina on your 16th birthday on up will go on your adult criminal record in the same exact way as any charge or conviction of a person over the age of 18. This is because North Carolina currently automatically charges all people ages 16 and older as an adult, regardless of the charge. However, North Carolina has recently changed this law, and 16-year-olds will no longer be charged as an adult as of December 2019. You can read more about this exciting change to NC criminal law (also known as “raise the age”) here.
Employers and private citizens do not have access to my full criminal record, only government agencies do.
False. Your criminal record is a matter of public record. Basically, anyone who wants to access your criminal history will be able to. Note, however, that not all criminal records are created equally. Some records are more basic, while others are much more in depth. At the very least, most records provide a list of all charges and convictions as well as their corresponding dates.
If you think you might be eligible for expunctions in North Carolina, contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options. Gilles Law has criminal defense attorneys licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina.