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Derek R. Fletcher, Esq.
Trial Lawyer • Consulting Services
FLETCHER LEGAL, PLLC
338 S. Sharon Amity Rd. # 421
Charlotte, NC 28211-2806
Tel (704) 747-7262 • Off (704) 380-0094
AVAILABLE BY APPOINTMENT
USD
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North Carolina Expungement laws are extremely progressive, compared to neighboring states. Under state law, non-violent misdemeanor convictions obtained as an adult are generally expungeable, assuming the Petitioner has met the underlying eligibility requirements. Perhaps the biggest hurdle involves the passage of time: for a misdemeanor conviction, at least 5 years must have lapsed since the date or conviction or completion of any imposed sentence.

If you are eligible to expunge a non-violent, adult, misdemeanor conviction, we highly advise filing an Expungement Petition immediately. The result of a successful petition allows a person to return to the legal status they occupied prior to conviction. This effecctively means that after a successful expungement, government databases are purged of the conviction, and a person may not be convicted of perjury for answering in the negative to any questions concerning the expunged conviction.

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ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Eligibility Requirements before successfully Expunging a North Carolina Adult Misdemeanor Conviction.
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To successfully expunge a non-violent, adult, misdemeanor conviction, state law requires:

NON-VIOLENT OFFENSE

1.   Non-violent. The term “non-violent” means any misdemeanor or felony except:

  • A Class A – G felony, or a Class A1 misdemeanor;
  • An offense that includes assault as an essential element of the offense;
  • An offense that requires sex offender registration under Article 27A, Chapter 14);
  • Specified stalking offenses (see 15A-145.5(a)(4);
  • Any felony offense in Chapter 90 that involves methamphetamine, heroin, or possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine;
  • Specified hate crimes (see 15A-145.5(a)(6) and 15a-145.5(a)(7);
  • Any felony offense in which a commercial motor vehicle was used in the commission of the crime;
  • Various felony breaking and entering offenses (see 15A-145.5(a(7a)));
  • Any offense involving impaired driving as defined by 20-4.01(24a);
  • Any offense that is an attempt to commit any of the offenses described above.
  • A Class A – G felony, or a Class A1 misdemeanor;
  • An offense that includes assault as an essential element of the offense;
  • Any felony offense in Chapter 90 that involves methamphetamine, heroin, or possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine;
  • Any felony offense in which a commercial motor vehicle was used in the commission of the crime;
  • Any offense involving impaired driving as defined by 20-4.01(24a);
  • Any offense that is an attempt to commit any of the offenses described above.

Certain other convictions may not qualify for relief; Please contact our office with specific questions as to whether your North Carolina Misdemeanor or Felony conviction is eligible for expungement.

DISCRETIONARY

2.   The plain language of the law states that a trial judge may have some level of discretion over whether to grant relief. Although there are not yet state appellate opinions intrepreting this language, opinions in neighboring states have overturned denials where petitioner has demonstrated condition eligibility and no further evidence of poor character or bad acts has been introduced.

TIME PERIOD

3.   Before filing, 5 years must have elapsed since:

A.   The date of conviction; or

B.   The date that any imposed sentence was completed, including service of any active jail time, period of probation, or post-release supervision.

*Whichever occurs later.

NO PRIOR CONVICTIONS

4.   No prior misdemeanor or felony convictions are allowed, except for traffic offenses (DWI is considered a traffic offense, and is therefore not a disqualifying event).

PETITIONER'S AFFIDAVIT

5.   Petitioner must file an Affidavit of Good Moral Character, which includes a statement that they owe no outstanding restitution in this case, that the Petition is a motion in the cause, and that they have no obtained no convictions (excluding traffic offenses) since conviction.

CHARACTER AFFIDAVITS

6.   Petitioner must attach two affidavits of good moral character from non-related persons who can testify about Petitioner’s character and reputation in the community.

NO SUBSEQUENT CONVICTIONS

7.   No subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions, except for traffic offenses (DWI is considered a traffic offense and therefore is not a disqualifying event).

NO OUTSTANDING WARRANTS OR PENDING CRIMINAL CASES

8.  No outstanding warrants for arrest or pending criminal cases against the Petitioner (although pending traffic offenses are a gray area).

RESTITUTION

9.   No outstanding restitution, judgment orders, or judgments representing restitution owed in the case to be expunged.

NO PRIOR EXPUNGEMENTS (WITH EXCEPTIONS)

10.   No prior expungements except for voluntary dismissal expungements, deferred dismissal expungements, or not guilty expungements.

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PETITION CONTENTS

Included Documents, Form Requirements, Filing Fees, and Character Affidavits.
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In order to Petition for Expungement of a non-violent, adult, misdemeanor conviction, Petitioner must submit the following to the Clerk of Court in the County in which the misdemeanor conviction was entered:

STATE APPROVED FORM

1.   Form AOC-CR-281;

PETITIONER'S AFFIDAVIT

2.   Affidavit of Good Moral Character from Petitioner containing a statement that no restitution or judgment representing restitution exists;

CHARACTER AFFIDAVITS

3.   Two Affidavits of Good Moral Character from persons not related to Petitioner who are familiar with Petitioner’s character and reputation in the community;

FILING FEES

4.   Petitioner must include a Certified Check or Money Order for $175 payable to Clerk of Court for filing fees.

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EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS

Expunging an Adult Misdemeanor Conviction in North Carolina is a long process involving multiple state agencies.
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JUDGE'S AUTHORIZATION

Upon filing, the Clerk of Court must obtain a judge’s signature on the AOC form under the “Request by Judge” portion of the form, and forward the petition to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

PETITION SENT TO RALEIGH

The NC SBI will complete the Criminal History Record Information, conduct a search for outstanding warrants and pending criminal cases. Once this search is complete, the SBI will forward the petition of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) in Raleigh. The NCAOC completes the record, and mails the Petition, with the enclosed record searches, to the Clerk in the county where the expungement is pending. The Clerk places the sealed envelope in the file, to be opened only by the presiding judge when the Petition is heard.

SERVICE OF PROCESS

At the time of filing, the Petitioner must also serve a copy of the petition packet with the District Attorney, who has 30 days to file an objection with the Court. This time period may be extended by an additional 30 days, so long as the District Attorney provides good cause as to the delay. During this time, the District Attorney must, by law, exercise their best efforts to notify the victim in the case prior to the hearing date.

REQUESTING A HEARING

It is the Petitioner’s responsibility to determine when form AOC-CR-281 has been returned to the Clerk or District Attorney, and to schedule a hearing on the Petition. This entire process can take up to a year or longer.

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HEARING PROCESS

Requesting a Hearing, Judge's right to call witnesses, and the Judge's discretionary role in the Expungement Process.
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JUDGE'S AUTHORITY TO CALL WITNESSES

During the hearing, the judge is authorized to call relevant witnesses, such as a probation officer, in order to gather information as to whether to grant the Expungement. The judge may also request testimony or affidavits from law enforcement officers, information from the District Attorney, or information from the victim.

JUDGE'S DISCRETION TO DENY EXPUNGEMENT

The black letter law states that the trial judge may grant relief following the hearing, which implies that the granting of relief is discretionary. Although the North Carolina Court of Appeals has not considered the issue of Expungement Petition denial without good cause, neighboring state appellate courts have overturned trial judges who have denied relief without the presentation of additional information from witnesses.

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COUNSEL

A licensed North Carolina Expungement Attorney is able to offer valuable assistance removing an Adult Misdemeanor Conviction.
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Although a Petitioner may absolutely file for, and request relief on their own, it is highly advisable to retain counsel. There are several reasons to hire an attorney for a North Carolina Expungement Petition, including:

DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY

1.   Let’s be clear, you only want to file 1 Expungement Petition for a non-violent, adult, misdemeanor conviction. The last thing a petitioner wants is to file, wait a year, show up at the hearing, and be denied for failure to complete a necessary step. A licensed North Carolina attorney will make sure that Petitioner has met every eligibility requirement prior to filing.

AFFIDAVIT DRAFTING

2.   A licensed North Carolina Expungement attorney is able to assist with drafting the required affidavits: one from the Petitioner and two from Petitioner’s character witnesses. The information requested in these affidavits is highly specific, and representation is highly advised for assistance drafting the affidavits in order to include information specifically requested from the courts during this process.

REQUESTING A HEARING

3.   It is Petitioner’s responsibility to request a hearing after form AOC-CR-281 has been successfully returned to the County where filed. A licensed North Carolina attorney will follow up during the process and request a hearing at the appropriate time.

HEARING REPRESENTATION

4.   During the hearing, a North Carolina attorney can cross examine any rebuttal witnesses the District Attorney or Judge may decide to call.

A Petition for Expungement of a North Carolina non-violent, adult, misdemeanor conviction is something a person only wants to file once; the worst thing that can happen is to improperly file and be denied relief at the hearing. A licensed North Carolina Expungement attorney can make sure all the paperwork is correctly filled out, can follow up with court clerks, and can offer invaluable assistance during the hearing itself.

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FAQ's EXPUNGING A NC FELONY CONVICTION

Frequently Asked Questions concerning Expungement of Adult Misdemeanor Convictions in North Carolina.
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If you’re ready to remove a misdemeanor conviction from your North Carolina criminal history, and you believe you meet the eligibility requirements listed above, call or message us today for your free case evaluation. You may also book an appointment online to speak with Attorney Derek R. Fletcher, your experienced North Carolina Expungement Attorney. We are able to work and meet remotely, as one of the leaders among small law firms to utilize video conferencing technology long before corona-virus, in our ongoing efforts to reduce client expenses by leveraging technology.

Over the past decade, Attorney Derek R. Fletcher has processed hundreds of Expungement Petitions across North Carolina. If these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) don’t directly address your specific concerns, call or message us today for direct assistance.

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SHOULD I HIRE A LAWYER TO EXPUNGE A NORTH CAROLINA MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION?

Petitioners are not required to retain legal counsel before filing an Expungement Petition in North Carolina. In Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), the U.S. Supreme Court held that part of the right to counsel is the “constitutional right to proceed without counsel,” effectively making law the right to represent oneself.

It is highly adviseable to hire a licensed North Carolina Expungement Attorney for several reasons:

1.   A licensed attorney is able to make sure the Expungement Petition is properly completed, and all eligibility requirements have been met. When we’re unsure about a client’s criminal record, our investigators conduct a thorough background check to obtain all relevant case information, and criminal background history to confirm eligibility.

2.   A licensed attorney is able to assist drafting the required affidavits, including Petitioner’s Affidavit, as well as the 2 additional Character Affidavits. The language required in these affidavits is specific, and the last thing a Petitioner wants is for their Expungement Petition to be denied on technical or procedural grounds.

3.   A licensed expungement attorney is able to properly request a hearing at the appropriate time. Because the burden of requesting a hearing is on Petitioner, they may not often know when the Petition has been returned from Raleigh, or how to properly request a hearing. A North Carolina Expungement Attorney has experience filing the correct paperwork to get the expungement before a trial judge.

4.   An experienced, North Carolina Expungement Attorney can offer effective in-court representation. Should the Judge or District Attorney call rebuttal witnesses, having a professional litigator on your team, able to effectively cross-examine the state’s witnesses is essential and can mean the difference between an expungement granted and an expungement denied.

5.   After a North Carolina Expungement Petition is granted, the conviction is removed from government databases. However, non-governmental third parties, such as background check companies and internet databases, must be put on notice. We maintain a list of the essential third parties that must be contacted, and we send a formal request to remove the now incorrect conviction entry. Having a retained expungement attorney send notices from their law office adds credibility, speeds up the process, and removes these incorrect entries as soon as possible.

HOW LONG DOES NC EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS TAKE?

Typically 6-12 months, although it depends on a variety of factors. These factors include:

  • How quickly the essential paperwork can be completed and filed;
  • Whether it’s necessary for our investigators to conduct an independent background check;
  • The length of time state agencies take to conduct their searches and return the Expungement Petition to local courts;
  • Once returned to local court, how quickly a hearing is requested and obtained.

HOW EXPENSIVE IS IT TO EXPUNGE A NORTH CAROLINA CONVICTION?

Anywhere from $250 to $5000, depending on a variety of factors such as:

  • The type of NC Expungement sought;
  • Whether we must conduct our own independent background check prior to filing;
  • The estimated difficulty and novelty processing your particular expungement, especially where a trial judge has discretion to deny relief and we anticipate difficulty or objection based on the facts or your particular case;
  • The County in which the Expungement Petition is filed;
  • Whether a hearing is required based on the type of expungement sought.

During your free case evaluation, Attorney Derek R. Fletcher, an experienced and licensed North Carolina Expungement Attorney, will provide you with an up-front, transparent, no-obligation fee quote, after discussing specifics of your case.

IS A HEARING REQUIRED FOR EXPUNGEMENT IN NORTH CAROLINA?

It depends on the type of North Carolina Expungement sought. In certain types of North Carolina Expungements, such as those filed under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145 (misdemeanor conviction under 18), N.C.G.S. § 15A-146 (charge not resulting in conviction), and N.C.G.S. § 15A-147 (identity theft / misidentification), relief is mandatory if Petitioner is eligible, thus a hearing is not necessary.

Other North Carolina Expungements, such as those filed under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5 (nonviolent misdemeanor or felony conviction at any age), the trial judge has discretionary authority to deny the Petition should additional evidence be discovered. The Expungement Hearing is the Court’s opportunity to call additional witnesses, such as a probation or law enforcement officer, as well as hear from the victim. Hearings are required in these types of Expungement cases, and putting forward the best possible argument is a critical role played by an experienced North Carolina Expungement Attorney.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE JUDGE DENIES MY EXPUNGEMENT?

In North Carolina Expungement cases where the trial judge has discretion whether to grant an expungement to eligible persons, the Court must include a finding of fact should expungement relief be denied. There are several reasons an expungement may be denied in North Carolina, such as failure to meet eligibility requirements before filing, including failing to wait the appropriate amount of time between conviction, or completion of sentance, and filing, as well as denial based on new evidence obtained during the expungement hearing. The reason for denial, that the judge must specify, determines the appropriate remedy moving forward.

Should the expungement be denied based on eligibility requirements, we look at what requirement our client has not met, determine whether we can help them become eligible, and either request the matter be reheard, or request an additional hearing. In cases based on new evidence obtained at the expungement hearing, as well as victim or law enforcement testimony from the hearing, it may be necessary to give Notice of Appeal and bring the case before an appellate court.

WHY SHOULD I FILE NC EXPUNGEMENT PETITION ASAP?

Because meeting all the eligibility requirements at the same time is a factor subject to change. Meeting all eligibility requirements is analagous to the planets aligning: we advise that a person file as soon as they become eligible.

Courts are uncertain places where people are charged and convicted of offenses everyday. If you’re eligible to remove an adult misdemeanor conviction, it’s highly advised you file immediately before circumstances change. On top of changing circumstances, the Expungement Process can take up to 18 months before being granted relief. The sooner a person moves forward, the sooner their life can return to what it was before they obtained their adult misdemeanor conviction.

I DON'T KNOW IF / DON'T THINK I'M ELIGIBLE FOR RELIEF.

Give us a call or shoot us a message with your particular concern. Depending on the reason you’re not currently eligible, FLETCHER LEGAL may be able to assist you becomming eligible. If there are incorrect entries on your criminal record, we will assist with having these corrected. If you aren’t currently eligible because of a pending case, our Firm can not only assist with representation in the underlying case, but also advise the types of outcomes that may disqualify an individual proceeding with Misdemeanor Conviction Expungement after resolution.

WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS IF I WANT TO RETAIN YOU?

If you are ready to file for Expungement in North Carolina, or if you have additional questions regarding eligibility, please call or message us to get the ball rolling. During our free case evaluation, we provide an initial assessment based on the information you provide, make an initial determination as to eligibility, and provide a fee quote to handle your North Carolina Expungement.

Once fees have been agreed upon, and you decide to retain our Firm to process your North Carolina Expungement, we will provide you with a detailed Questionnaire, as well as a Fee Agreement, that should be completed and returned as soon as possible. Unless other arrangements have been made, attorney’s fees must be paid before we are able to open file and begin expunging your record.

Once we recieve your payment, and signed Fee Agreement, you are now represented by a licensed and experienced North Carolina Expungement Attorney. We may require additional information from you, from time to time, but the job of drafting documents, assembling the Expungement Petition, and handling your case, now falls on our shoulders. We handle every aspect of managing your North Carolina Expungement, including obtaining background checks, requesting hearings, drafting affidavits, and notifying third parties.

After we file your Expungement Petition in the proper county, we regularly follow-up with local court clerks to determine whether necessary documents have been returned from Raleigh, and file a Request for Hearing at the earliest possible chance. On your hearing date, we present your best possible case before the judge, cross-examine any rebuttal witnesses the judge or state may have called, and advocate on your behalf.

Should relief be granted following the hearing, we begin notifying third-party background check companies, as well as major online databases, that their entry of your conviction is incorrect. We request in writing that these third parties remove the now incorrect entries from their records immediately. In addition to notifying these major third parties that we keep on record, we provide clients with a form letter they may send to additional third parties in the future, after our Firm’s involvement in the case has ended, and our representation has concluded.

Should the judge deny your Expungement, we conduct a meeting to discuss the grounds leading to denial. We determine whether we can remedy any eligibility prerequisite not met, or whether the case must be appealed. Should an appeal become necessary, we outline the steps forward, provide our best possible recommendation, and allow our client to determine what happens next.

REMOVING A NC NON-VIOLENT MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION STARTS HERE.

If you or someone you love is eligible to remove a misdemeanor conviction from their North Carolina criminal background history, the first step is to call or message FLETCHER LEGAL. We petition for expungements in every county in North Carolina, and make certain clients meet all eligibility requirements before filing. We draft the required affidavits, and email them for your review and signature. We assemble all necessary documentation, file on your behalf, and represent you in Court.

Removing a criminal conviction is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should never be missed. Circumstances change, and just because you are eligible today doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be eligible tomorrow. Call or message now for your free case evaluation, or book an appointment online to speak with Attorney Derek R. Fletcher, your licensed and experienced North Carolina Expungement Attorney. We conduct remote meetings through video conference, and can process every aspect of your case, pre-filing, online.

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