NORTH CAROLINA EXPUNCTIONS
I’ve been a lawyer for almost 20 years, and one of the most commonly asked questions is why a dismissed criminal charge is still showing on an individual’s criminal record. During those nearly twenty years of experience, I realize that the law regarding North Carolina expunction law is one of the most misunderstood areas of North Carolina criminal law.
Many people incorrectly believe that their criminal charges are automatically removed from their criminal record when they are found not guilty of those criminal charges or if those charges are dismissed. In some states, criminal charges that do not result in a conviction are automatically removed from the criminal record. North Carolina, however, is not one of those states.
So what exactly does it mean when you are charged with a North Carolina crime but not convicted? It means that if you are applying for a job, an apartment, or even filling out a college application, you are able to answer that you were not convicted of a crime. However, what it also means is that if a criminal record is reviewed, and an expunction has not occurred, the person, agency, or entity conducting the criminal record check will be able to see the original charges. In some instances, even when a conviction has not occurred, the criminal charge itself may negatively influence the person who is reviewing your record.
For example, one of my former high school classmates was sharing an apartment with her boyfriend. One day while she was at work, and her boyfriend was home, the police came to her apartment and ultimately arrested her boyfriend for several North Carolina felony drug charges. Although she was not home at the time of the arrest, her name was on the lease, and she was also charged with several North Carolina felony drug charges. Her charges were later dismissed, but she never sought an expunction.
Years later, while applying for a job, she was interviewed and subsequently asked about criminal charges that were discovered during her criminal background check. Because the charges had been dismissed, she believed that no one would be able to see those dismissed charges. In addition, I am certain that the person interviewing her wanted to know why she was ever charged in the first place.
My friend’s situation is the perfect illustration of why charges, even when they have been dismissed, can still have an impact. Therefore, if you have been charged with a North Carolina crime that has been dismissed or there has been a finding of not guilty, I encourage you to speak with a North Carolina criminal attorney with experience in North Carolina expunction law. An experienced Winston-Salem expunction attorney, with experience in North Carolina expunction law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected and that all possible expungement opportunities are being considered. Please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem expunction lawyer to assist you. Our office is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.