Help in Wake County for justice-involved individuals and their supporters.
What is An expunction?
An expunction is a legal process to remove a criminal conviction or a criminal charge from a person’s record and to seal or destroy the state’s records of the arrest, charge, and/or conviction. A person who has had an expunction granted generally cannot be found guilty of perjury if he or she denies that the arrest, charge, or conviction ever happened. However, an expunction might not provide relief from all consequences of the charge or conviction; for example, an expunction might not prevent the expunged case from being used for federal immigration decisions. You can view the statute (law) that describes the effects of expunctions here and the statutes under which expunged information can be accessed here and here.
North Carolina also allows the expunction of certain records of juvenile delinquency, but that process is different from expunction of adult criminal charges and convictions. You can read more about juvenile expunction in the Juvenile Delinquency Help Topic.
What is the difference between an “expunction” and “expungement”?
“Expunction” and “expungement” mean the same thing. North Carolina’s expunction statutes use both terms interchangeably.
Who is eligible for an expunction?
There are numerous expunction statutes in North Carolina. Some allow the expunction of only specific types of offenses, like drug possession. Other statutes allow expunction of a broader range of offenses but for a smaller group of people, like persons who were under 18 or 21 at the time of the offense. Still others depend on how the charge ended; for example, there are statutes that address expunction of convictions and statutes that address expunction of charges that were dismissed or for which the defendant was found not guilty.
Who can help me obtain an expunction?
You can hire a lawyer, in the county of your conviction or dismissed charges, to file an expunction for you. If you are low income, you may be eligible for a free lawyer from Legal Aid of North Carolina. To contact Legal Aid, call 1-866-219-LANC. Some counties may allow you to file your own petition. For more information about how to file your own expunction application, please click here. The table on the link lists the statutes that govern expunction, their titles (which describe briefly the kinds of cases eligible for expunction under that statute) and provides links to the Administrative Office of the Courts’ petition forms and instruction sheets for each type of expunction
What is A certificate of relief?
A Certificate of Relief restores opportunities for individuals to be productive, law-abiding citizens in several ways:
- Transforms certain automatic civil disqualifications into discretionary civil disqualifications (e.g., occupational licensing)
- Provides employers, landlords, and other decision-makers evidence of “due care” that shields them for
negligence liability (a 2014 SHRM survey of employers found that more than half cited the fear of negligent hiring liability as a primary reason they do not hire qualified applicants with criminal records)
- Provides employers, landlords, and other decision-makers additional information and context in determining an applicant’s suitability for a specific position or resource
A Certificate of Relief DOES NOT:
- Erase, change, or obscure an individual’s criminal record for any purpose
- Allow a certificate holder to deny a criminal conviction(s) occurred
- Force employers, landlords, admissions officials, or licensing agencies to hire, house, admit, or license certificate
- Limit the discretion of a presiding judge to deny relief to an eligible individual if the court determines granting
relief is not appropriate
- Affect certain automatic civil sanctions exempted from relief (see G.S. 15A-173.3) including:
- Sex Offense Registration
- Possession of a firearm by a person with a felony conviction
- Motor vehicle license revocation or ineligibility
- Any civil disability imposed by federal law or the North Carolina Constitution