In June 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed the Second Chance Act into law. This act, which received bipartisan support, makes significant changes to North Carolina’s expungement laws.
This new law makes more criminal records eligible for expungement. Before, even people who have served their time would face considerable challenges reintegrating into society. A criminal record may cause a landlord to deny an apartment application or a hiring manager to deny a person a job. The Second Chance Act offers tens of thousands of North Carolina residents just that: a second chance.
What the new law changes
About 25% of North Carolina residents have criminal records, meaning many employers and loan officers may reject one out of every four applications based on past digressions. These constant denials put a huge strain on low-income populations of North Carolina and prevent many citizens who have served their time from rejoining society as productive and active members.
The Second Chance Act clears the way for those with a criminal record by expanding expungement eligibility for nonviolent criminal convictions after seven years. The law also automates expungement for charges the court had dismissed or for defendants found “not guilty.” The law makes it much easier for people to “clean their slate” and start over.
For juvenile offenders
This monumental new law also stands to change much for the youth of North Carolina. Before the Second Chance Act, the state would only expunge juvenile felonies of Class F or lower. Crimes committed in one’s youth would follow that person around for the rest of their life. The Second Chance Act allows a person to petition for expungement if the individual:
- Committed the crime at age 16 or 17;
- Committed the crime before December 1, 2019;
- Served the entire sentence;
- Paid all fines and fees;
- Did not violate a motor vehicle law under Chapter 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes; and
- Committed a crime that did not require registration as a sex offender.
Bring questions to a lawyer
Those looking to expunge their juvenile records and start their second chance can find answers with a local lawyer familiar with North Carolina juvenile law. An attorney will help assess a case, double-check all petition paperwork and smooth the process over with the courts.