North Carolina Law Reducing Wait Time for Criminal Record Expungement Took Effect December 1

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On December 1, 2017, North Carolina Senate Bill 445 (SB 445) took effect to reduce the wait time for criminal record expungement for first-time non-violent offenders where the legal record of an individual’s arrest or criminal conviction is sealed and essentially erased in the eyes of the law.

Signed into law by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper in July of 2017, SB 445 significantly reduces the waiting period for expungement of a criminal record from fifteen years to ten years for a first-time nonviolent felony and from fifteen years to five years for a nonviolent misdemeanor.

SB 445 – which provides an opportunity for North Carolinian ex-offenders who have paid their debt to make positive contributions – also standardizes the process for expungement of criminal records and gives prosecutors electronic access to records expunged on or after December 1, 2017.

“Criminal justice shouldn’t end at incarceration. It should end at restoration,” Governor Cooper stated in a press release about the criminal record expungement law in North Carolina. “We want North Carolinians who have corrected their mistakes to go on to live purposeful, productive lives.”

Under previous legislation, individuals in North Carolina would have to wait fifteen years – more than three times longer than most other states – to have a non-violent offense expunged from their criminal record. The text of SB 445 is at https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/PDF/S445v5.pdf.

In May 2013, ESR News reported that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation – Senate Bill 91 – to prohibit employers or educational institutions from requesting that job applicants provide information regarding arrests, criminal charges, or criminal convictions that have been expunged.

North Carolina joins other states in revising criminal record expungement laws. In October 2017, ESR News reported that California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 312 (SB 312) to improve the state’s juvenile justice systems by authorizing courts to seal juvenile records for certain offenses.

In June 2017, ESR News reported that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced the passing of three expungement reform bills to prohibit employment discrimination based upon expunged criminal records, increase the number of convictions to be expunged, and reduce the wait to expunge a record.

More ESR News Blogs about Expungement

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