New law makes it easier to clear a North Carolina criminal record

North Carolina recently passed a law reducing wait times for expunging non-violent criminal records.

When somebody is convicted of a crime, they often expect that once their sentence has been served they will be able to re-enter society and put their past mistakes behind them. However, because such people are saddled with a criminal record, they often find that even basic necessities, such as finding a job or a place to live, become major obstacles. Thanks to a recently passed law, however, expunging a criminal record in North Carolina will soon become much easier, which in turn will allow many of those who have been convicted of a crime to get back on their feet faster.

Expungement bill passed

As The News & Observer reports, in July 2017 Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill into law that changes the rules surrounding expungement of a criminal record. Beginning December 1, 2017, the process for expunging a criminal record will become more straightforward and wait times for expungement will also be reduced. The changes apply to non-violent felonies and misdemeanors.

Somebody who has been convicted of a non-violent felony, for example, will have the wait time before they can apply to have their criminal record cleared shortened from 15 years to 10 years. For those convicted of a non-violent misdemeanor the wait time will be reduced to five years. Furthermore, the new law does away with a prohibition against people obtaining multiple expungements if they had previous charges dismissed or they were acquitted.

Getting back on their feet

As WNCN News reports, proponents of the new law believe that it could affect up to two million people in North Carolina. The law is important since a criminal record can prove to be a major obstacle in life. Criminal background checks are often conducted on job, college, and tenant applications, which in turn can mean that a person who has a criminal record can feel as though they are still being punished for a crime long after they have served their sentence.

Expungement does not mean that the record of a conviction goes away entirely. Police and prosecutors will still be able to access expunged records. However, members of the public, such as employers and landlords, will not be able to see any record of a conviction that has been expunged.

Criminal defense help

As the above article shows, having a criminal record is something that can haunt an individual for decades into the future. That's why anybody who has been charged with a crime needs to reach out to a criminal defense attorney right away. An experienced attorney can help clients understand what their legal options are and, in some cases, may be able to fight to keep that client's record clean.