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Could the new expungement law give you a second chance?

Everyone with a criminal record knows just how much that record can affect your everyday life, especially when seeking a job or housing. If you could wipe your record clean, you could have a new beginning. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper just signed into law the Second Chance Act, a new bill that makes expungement easier for some people with a criminal record. Lawmakers expressed their hope that the bill will open more job opportunities for people who made mistakes in the past but have not had recent trouble with the law.

How does the law work?

The law applies to only certain types of charges but does include both misdemeanor and felony charges committed before December 1, 2019, for a juvenile record. It also applies to some nonviolent offenses for an adult record. It shortens the amount of time you must wait to file for expungement of multiple misdemeanors to seven years. Single felonies require 10 years.

In addition, the law will require courts to strike dismissed charges and acquittals from criminal records starting in December 2021. You cannot expunge violent or sexual crimes or impaired driving charges, however.

In North Carolina, you must file your petition for expungement, sometimes called expunction, in the county where your arrest happened. The State Bureau of Investigation reviews your request and researches any relevant information. They then send it to the court for approval or denial. If the judge has questions, he or she may require a hearing. Otherwise, the court will order your expungement.

You can file your expungement claim starting on December 1, 2020. To find out if the Second Chance Act might apply to you, seek legal advice. Your new beginning could be waiting for you.