The North Carolina Second Chance Expunction Gap
The following is a summary of the law prepared by law students under the supervision of a professor based on consulting multiple sources. It is only up to date as of the dates shown below and in many cases we had to make judgment calls. Therefore we encourage you to also consult the sources below, as well as the Restoration of Rights Project that include summaries of the law for all 50 states and US territories.
Primary Sources: GS15A-145. Expunction of certain misdemeanors and felonies (2018) | N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-146 (2018)
Secondary Sources: Relief for Criminal Convictions in North Carolina (Apr/Jun 2018) | CCRC North Carolina (5/9/2020) | NC Justice Guide (Feb 2019)
Summary of the Law
- Misdemeanors: Expunction if nonviolent misdemeanors (15A-145.5(a)) upon petition after 5 years wait-period starting at completion of sentence if clean (no conviction) (15A-145.5(c)).
- Felonies: Expunction if nonviolent felonies (15A-145.5(a)) upon petition after 10 year wait-period starting at completion of sentence if clean (15A-145.5(c)).
- Not Eligible: Class A-G Felonies (15A-145.5(a)(1)), Class A-1 misdemeanors (at (1)), DWI (at (8a)), offenses requiring Sex Offender Registration (at 3 and 4), and many drug offenses (at (5)), any offenses where assault is an essential element (at 2) (15A-145.5(a)).
- Lifetime and Other Limits: Only one expunction per lifetime 15A-145.5(c) [cannot be modeled]
- Treatment of Multiple Convictions from the Same Incident: Treat as a single conviction for the purposes of expunction, need to file in a single petition. 15A-145.5(b)
- LFO Payment Required for Sentence Completion: Yes, Payment Required 15A-145.5(c)
- Other Unmodeled Criteria or Details:
- Juvenile Offenses: Expunction for first offenders who committed certain specified nonviolent felonies when under 18, upon petition, after four year waiting-period from completion of sentence. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-145.4 (2018)).
- Expunction for misdemeanors committed under age 18 (except for traffic violations) and first offender alcohol-possession misdemeanors committed under age 21 are eligible for expunction, upon petition, two years after the date of conviction completion of sentence, whichever is later. (N.C. Gen Stat. § 15A-145(a) (2017)).
- Misdemeanors/Felonies: Expunction available for misdemeanors and felonies if charges dismissed or found not guilty, upon petition with no wait time. NC. Gen. Stat. § 15A-146(a) (2017).
- Lifetime and Other Limits: Expunction available for multiple non-convictions, with no stated limit on number or lifetime limit on petitions. NC. Gen. Stat. § 15A-146(a)(a1) (2017).
- Not Eligible: Expunction not available for non-conviction if prior felony conviction. NC. Gen. Stat. § 15A-146(a) (2017).