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Sealing Your Record – Protecting Your Future

An arrest or criminal record can be detrimental to your life. There are instances in which a first-time offender can get the crime expunged from their record – meaning that the records are sealed and that anyone who runs a background check would not run across the criminal case. This makes it so that someone who had been involved in the law, but had their records sealed, would be able to honestly answer "no" when asked if they have been convicted of a conviction – providing them with the ability to easily and successfully move forward in their future unhampered by the prior conviction.

In North Carolina, should someone be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony and it was either dismissed or if it was determined that they were not guilty, then they could be eligible for expungement. This would seal all records that are related to the apprehension or the trial. The following, however, would make someone disqualified for an expungement:

- Previously receiving an expungement
- Having a previous criminal conviction
- Having pending criminal charges
- The charge be in relation to a motor vehicle violation

Carteret County Lawyer Helping With the Expungement Process

We at Cummings & Kennedy recognize the importance of receiving an expungement. A potential employer could see that you had been involved with violating the law and even though you were not convicted, it could be enough to have them choose another applicant. Should you choose to work with a Carteret County criminal defense attorney from Cummings & Kennedy, you will be able to trust in both our ability and our desire to protect your rights. Call today to set up an appointment with one of our expungement lawyers and see what options are available to you with the help of our free consultation.

Also, if you’re further curious about expungement laws here in Carteret County, North Carolina, continue reading. We have cataloged additional information about common reasons why folks seek an expungement, the specific expungement qualifications with which an individual must comply to receive an expungement, and answers to common questions that we encounter — all listed below.



To secure job opportunities: Potential employers may access your criminal record to assess whether or not you’re a trustworthy candidate for the job you are applying for. That’s an unfortunate truth for those who have been charged, yet not convicted of a crime. Often, employers neglect to consider the fact that you were innocent of the charges held against you, even if your record reflects that a charge was dropped, or that you were ruled innocent of the crime of which you were accused. That may seem unfair, but it makes sense to many employers who are going through the hiring process.

Think about it like this: If you were hiring a new employee for a hypothetical company, and two candidates approached you with similar resumes — while one of the candidates had a criminal record that showed a criminal charge without a conviction, and the other had a clean record — who would you hire? To give yourself the best edge when you’re seeking employment, it can prove powerful to have a clean record.

To secure housing: Landlords and property managers may check your criminal record to judge whether or not you are an ideal candidate to become a tenant at their property. Often, property owners use criminal records to gain a glimpse into the character of potential tenants. And more often than not, if you have a criminal charge on your record, it may mar your chances of renting a property at which you’d like to live.  


  • To get into school: Universities may also check your criminal record. Often, universities scan applicants’ criminal records to look for charges that could create an issue for the school down the line. Since new students tend to stay on school property (i.e. campus dorms), schools often strive to keep their student housing free from individuals who have been convicted or charged with crimes. Universities are especially cautious to accept applicants who have sexual offense charges, drug or alcohol related charges, or violent crime charges.

  • If you’ve been charged with a crime and the charge was dropped, or you were judged innocent in the case, then you can see how these criminal checks may seem unfair. Fortunately, you can expunge your record to ensure that any school that you apply to will not reject you on the basis of your criminal record.

  • To avoid social embarrassment: We live in a highly social, interconnected world. If your reputation is at stake due to a charge that is on your record, it may be best to have it expunged as quickly as possible. Criminal records are available to the public, and a criminal charge — even if it was dropped or you were ruled innocent — can damage your image in the eyes of the public, your friends, and your family members. Expunging your record provides you with the peace of mind that nobody will learn about a previous charge. 

 



As we mentioned before, an individual cannot have their record expunged if they’ve received a previous expungement, if they’ve been convicted of a previous criminal charge, if they have any current criminal charges that are pending a conviction, or if the charge in question is a motor vehicle violation. In addition, there are a variety of qualifications that apply in order for an expungement to be a possibility. Below, we’ve covered some of the qualifications necessary for an expungement to be possible.

Expungement Qualifications for Charges by Minors

Juveniles who have been charged and/or convicted of a crime may be eligible to have their records expunged. While there are various criteria for expungement for minors (varying depending on the charge or conviction), most charges and convictions can be expunged if an individual fulfills the following requirements:

- The individual is now 18 or more years of age.
- The individual has no prior misdemeanors or felonies within the last two years.
- Two years have passed since the conviction to be expunged.
- The sentence for a conviction (if any) has been completed. 

There are more strict qualifications for felony charges, as well as drug charges. If you’re curious about the requirements to expunge a specific charge or conviction, reach out to one of our criminal defense attorneys. We’ll let you know what your options are.

Expungement Qualifications for Charges Without Conviction

Individuals who have been charged with a crime, yet not convicted of that crime, may have grounds for an expungement. That said, these individuals will also have to fulfill a number of criteria, including all of the following:

- The individual must have their charge dismissed, or they must be found not guilty or not responsible by the court.
- The individual may not have been convicted of a felony. 

Take note, in some cases, an individual may expunge multiple charges if those charges occurred in a one-year timeframe (the charges do not need to be related), or if the charges were resolved in court in the same session. If you’re confused about these qualifications, or you think you may be eligible to have your record expunged, don’t hesitate to reach out to us — we’re here to help.

Expungement Qualifications for Those Who Have Been Convicted of a Criminal Offense

Only in certain circumstances may an individual receive expungement for a charge if they’ve been convicted of that charge in a North Carolina court of law. In these cases, the individual must fulfill all of the following requirements:

- As of December 1, 2017, five years must have passed since the date of the conviction or since the sentence for the conviction was completed — for misdemeanor convictions — or at least 10 years must have passed since the date of the conviction or since the sentence for the conviction was completed — for felony convictions.
- The conviction sentence must be completed.

- The individual may only expunge one felony or misdemeanor (unless the charges were treated as an individual conviction of court, and resolved in the same court session).
- Only nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies may be expunged.
- The individual may not have any other misdemeanor or felony convictions on their record, apart from traffic violations.
- The individual must not have any current warrants, and they must not have any current criminal charges.

If you think you may be eligible to have your record expunged for an offense of which you have been convicted, feel free to give us a call for a consultation.



Which charges can be expunged?

In general, charges that have resulted in a not guilty verdict and charges that have been dismissed may be expunged from your record. In addition, certain misdemeanor and felony convictions may be expunged, after a given timeframe. If an individual was convicted of a misdemeanor charge and sentenced over five years ago, or, if an individual was convicted of a felony charge and sentenced over ten years ago, they may be eligible to have their record expunged. That said, certain crimes cannot be expunged, including many violent or sex-related crimes.

Although this is not a complete list, the following charges may be eligible for expungement after the aforementioned timeframe: disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of stolen goods, damage to property, small sales of controlled substances, embezzlement, obtaining property through false pretenses, and larceny. In any case, a judge will decide whether or not a expungement petition results in record expungement.

Which charges cannot be expunged?

If you’ve been convicted of a violent offense, or if you have been convicted of an offense which results in required registration on the Sex Offender Registry, then you cannot have your record expunged.

Can I have multiple charges expunged?

As of December 1, 2017, individuals may have multiple charges expunged in their lifetime. Plus, an individual may have multiple charges expunged if they were charged at the same time for these charges (which are often related). For instance, you may be charged with possession of marijuana at the same time that you are charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, and you may be tried for both charges at the same time. In these instances, it may be possible to have your record expunged if the charges are dropped or if you earn a not guilty verdict.

I’ve completed a deferral agreement for my charge, can I have the charge expunged?

Possibly. In certain court cases, a judge will offer a deferral agreement to have the charges dismissed. In these instances, an individual must fulfill all of the requirements of the deferral agreement — then they may be eligible to have their record expunged of the charge.

However, there are also draft deferral agreements that do not allow for expungement of the charge. If you are issued a deferral agreement for a violence-related crime, for instance, then you may not be able to expunge your record of the charge, even if the deferral results in a dismissal of the charge.

Can I get a charged expunged if I’ve been convicted guilty of said charge?

For most charges that result in guilty convictions, expungement is not a possibility. That said, if you have been convicted of a crime, and 5 years (for misdemeanors, 10 years for felonies) have passed since your sentencing or completion of sentencing requirements, you may be eligible to have your record expunged of a guilty conviction. There are also a variety of requirements for individuals who seek this type of expungement (see Expungement Qualifications for Those Who Have Been Convicted of a Criminal Offense, above). In addition, a judge may still not grant you an expungement, even if you petition to have your record expunged after 5 years (for misdemeanors, 10 years for felonies) past the sentencing. Violent crime convictions cannot be expunged for the lifetime of an individual.

Are expungement rules different for adults and minors?

Yes. Minors have a bit more leeway in attaining expungements here in North Carolina. If an individual was a minor when they commited a crime, they may be eligible to have said conviction expunged once they reach the age of 18. That individual may not have been charged with any crime in the last two years, and they must fulfill a variety of other criteria (see Expungement Qualifications for Charges by Minors, listed above).

How long does will take to expunge my record?

Once a petition for expungement is in order, it may take anywhere from six to nine months to complete the process. During this time, your record will still show the petitioned charge.


To learn more about expungement and how we can help, contact Cummings & Kennedy!