Expungements: The Second Chance Act

by Daisha Barnes

One in four North Carolinians have a criminal record. This criminal record leads to “collateral consequences” such as missed opportunities with housing and employment. To help combat these consequences, North Carolina passed the Second Chance Act. Governor Cooper stated that this bill will give “people who make amends for past mistakes the opportunity to clear their records, that this bill offers the opportunity and a path to good jobs and a brighter future.” This bill gives people the chance to clear their records, because it expands eligibility for expunging nonviolent criminal convictions as well as automatically expunge certain dismissed or not guilty charges, on or after December 1, 2021. The Second Chance Act also grants prosecutors the right to petition for expungements on behalf of individuals and the opportunity to petition for Raise the Age convictions. Raise the Age convictions, are any misdemeanor or Class H or I felonies that were committed before December 1, 2019 by a person between the ages of 16 and 18 at the time of the offense. You can petition for a Raise the Age conviction after an active sentence, probation and post release have been completed. Additionally, you can not have any outstanding restitution orders.


If you are petitioning for an expunction for charges not resulting in conviction, for one or multiple dismissals, even if you have a felony conviction, the court may order an expungement. If you are petitioning for an expunction of one nonviolent misdemeanor, you must meet the following requirements: (1) you can file the petition 5 years after the date of conviction or active sentence, probation, or post release has been served, whichever date is later, and (2) cannot have any other felony or misdemeanor convictions, as well as no outstanding restitution or civil judgements.


If you are petitioning for an expunction of more than one nonviolent misdemeanor, you must meet the following requirements: (1) can file the petition 7 years after the date of conviction or active sentence, probation, or post release has been served, whichever date is later, (2) cannot have any other convictions that would be excluded from expungement eligibility, and (3) cannot have any other conviction during the 7-year period, as well as no outstanding restitution or civil judgements.


If you are petitioning for an expunction of one nonviolent felony, you must meet the following requirements: (1) can file the petition 10 years after the date or conviction, or active sentence, probation, or post release has been served, whichever date is later, (2) cannot have any other convictions that would be excluded from expungement eligibility, and (3) cannot have any other convictions during the 10 year period, as well as no outstanding restitution or civil judgements.


Automatic expungements will occur for either misdemeanor or felony convictions that result in dismissals without leave or in a finding of not guilty for charges disposed on or after December 1, 2021.


Depending on your situation, you may qualify for an expungement. If you would like legal assistance with petitioning for your expungement, reach out to us at info@smithdominguez.com or schedule a free consultation here. We’re happy to help.



About the Author:

Daisha Barnes is a third year law student at Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law and a current law clerk at Smith Dominguez, PLLC. During her time at Campbell, Daisha has been very active with the Black Law Student Association, the Hispanic Law Student Association and the Campbell Law Innocence Project.