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DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED – Defining “Driving”

As always, we begin our analysis by reviewing the relevant law, N.C.G.S. 20-138.1: “A person commits the offense of Impaired Driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this state: While under

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DRUGGED DRIVING IN NORTH CAROLINA

Drugged Driving – or Drug DWI – is a form of “Impaired Driving,” under N.C.G.S. 20-138.1. This is the same law that the State uses to convict drunk drivers. In other words, the same law governs drunk driving and drugged driving. But, operating under the influence of drugs, and operating under the influence of alcohol, are two very different things.

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Serious cases require serious representation.
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EXPUNGE

At Fletcher Legal, we believe in 2nd chances. We believe that a criminal charge or conviction shouldn’t haunt a person for life, after they’ve paid their debts to society. And we believe in making expungements easier and more affordable – which is why we’ve changed the way people expunge North Carolina criminal records.
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FLETCHER LEGAL IS A CHARLOTTE-BASED LAW PRACTICE DEDICATED TO HELPING OUR CLIENTS NAVIGATE BOTH THE JUDICIAL PROCESS, AND LIFE’S MOST DIFFICULT MOMENTS. We constantly push the limits of what’s possible when it comes to integrating technology into solo practice with the goal of reducing client fees and expanding access to law. We believe in treating people the way we want to be treated.

WE FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, BUT RESULTS AREN’T EVERYTHING. We believe that relationships are key, and we only accept clients that we feel we can have a successful partnership with to reach the best results. We believe that legal emergencies rarely occur during business hours, and that it is essential for clients to have Attorney Fletcher’s personal cell phone number.

WE ACCEPT CLIENTS, NOT CASES, AND WE GO WHERE WE ARE NEEDED, ACROSS ALL 100 NORTH CAROLINA COUNTIES. We stick to what we’re good at, continually pushing the envelope and streamlining process steps. We always set our clients up for the best possible outcome.

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EXPUNGING A NORTH CAROLINA CRIMINAL BACKGROUND

WHAT IS “EXPUNGEMENT?” Expungement, or “Expunction,” is the legal process for removing either a criminal charge, or a criminal conviction, from a person’s criminal history report (or “background”). People are often charged with crimes that are often dismissed (or “dropped” without being heard by a court), but remain as entries in background checks. Additionally, if a person is charged with a crime, and either pleads guilty, or is found guilty after trial, those entries can also be removed if that person meets a list of conditions established under North Carolina law.
WE BELIEVE IN 2ND CHANCES. At Fletcher Legal, we recognize that criminal charges and convictions have lasting impacts on a person’s life, well beyond completing their sentence and repaying their debt to society. Fletcher Legal is the first North Carolina law firm to bring the expungement process online and allow clients to enter their information into secure web forms rather than meet at our office in person. This drastically reduces the legal fees imposed on clients and expands this type of relief to an entirely new demographic.
CLEAN UP YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD. We get it: a person shouldn’t have lasting consequences from an unproven allegation, or an old criminal conviction. The truth is that people often have a difficult time securing housing, getting a good job, or moving forward in life when they’re held back by background checks. Each client requires a unique plan, and each expungement is different. This article describes more about the expungement process in North Carolina, and how we can help.
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TYPES OF NORTH CAROLINA EXPUNGEMENTS

EXPUNGEMENTS ARE CREATED BY STATE STATUTE. Expungements are governed by state law; specifically: Article 5, Chapter 15A of the North Carolina General Statutes. A good way of understanding Expungement law is that, by default, when a person is either charged or convicted of any crime, that record will appear on that person’s criminal background report forever, unless the state allows a person to expunge it. The law must specifically allow a person to expunge something – no right to expunge exists. However, several North Carolina laws create several expunctions under which a “Petitioner” may file.

NEITHER THIS LISTING NOR THIS WEBSITE ATTEMPT TO EXHAUSTIVELY COVER, IN-DEPTH, EACH OF THE EXPUNGEMENT STATUTES CREATED BY THE NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Around here, we stick to what we’re good at. What that means in this context is rather than doing a half-way job of listing the roughly twenty different types of Expungements created under North Carolina law, we’ve done some research and determined the most frequently filed Expungement types in North Carolina, based off of several years worth of tracking data. Our goal is to be the very best at the types of Expungements listed below – which the vast majority of people need help with – instead of just being vaguely aware of each and every type of Expungement known to North Carolina law. Just because the specific Expungement you may qualify for is not listed below, does not mean it doesn’t exist. Simply call our office, and one of our Expungement Professionals would be happy to discuss other – perhaps more well suited – expungements based on your particular situation.

WE BELIEVE WE CAN DO THE MOST GOOD BY FOCUSING ON THE EXPUNGEMENTS THAT ARE FILED MOST OFTEN, AFTER HAVING STUDIED EXPUNGEMENT PETITIONERS FILED DURING THE PAST DECADE.  In North Carolina, Expungements generally fall into 1 of five categories. Although this discussion could easily spiral out of control into a very thorough and in-depth legal analysis, we’re going to do our best to simplify – yet clarify – these different expungements the best we possibly can. The five types of Expungements this website will help explain include:

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A District Attorney may dismiss (almost) any criminal charge, at any point during the case, for any reason or for no reason at all (referred to as “prosecutorial discretion”). Many reasons may lead to a voluntary dismissal: perhaps the state believes they have a weak case they cannot prove at trial, perhaps they cannot locate the prosecuting witness, or perhaps the person charged is now in compliance with a minor traffic offense. As long as you haven’t been convicted of a felony, you’re usually able to expunge a dismissed charge. We’ve made the process easier than ever; learn more about expunging a Voluntary Dismissal here, or start expunging a Voluntary Dismissal online now.

Voluntary Dismissals are unconditional, and within the prosecutor's discretion.
A Deferred Dismissal is the result of a "deal" made with the State to dismiss the charges if the person accused stays out of trouble, or completes a period of probation.

Deferred Dismissals are not unconditional. Typically, the state “makes a deal” with a first time offender, a person charged with minor drug possession, or an underage drinker. In exchange for a guaranteed future dismissal, the person charged agrees to complete a period of probation, a drug class, or community service. Convicted felons are barred from expunging Deferred Dismissals from their criminal records. We’ve made the process easier, and less expensive, than ever! Learn more about expunging a Deferred Dismissal here, or begin expunging a Deferred Dismissal online now!

Not Guilty Verdicts, whether obtained from a judge hearing and ruling on a case, or obtained from a jury, may be expunged from a person’s criminal record, as long as that person is not a convicted felon. We’ve made the process of expunging a Not Guilty verdict easier, and less expensive, than ever before! Learn more about expunging a North Carolina Not Guilty Verdict here, or begin your online expungement now!

Judge and Jury Not Guilty verdicts are able to be expunged in North Carolina as long as the Petitioner is not a convicted felon.
Nonviolent Misdemeanor Convictions, except DWI's, can usually be expunged under North Carolina law after 5 years.

North Carolina law allows a person to expunge a misdemeanor conviction that occurred at any age – subject to a few exclusions, conditions, and filing requirements. The conviction must be for a nonviolent offense, meaning that assault cannot be an essential element, and the Petitioner must have waited at least 5 years since they completed their sentence before applying. Learn more about expunging a North Carolina Misdemeanor Conviction here.

What used to be a hard “NO” has turned into a resounding “sometimes…?” North Carolina law now allows a person that has been convicted of a single, nonviolent felony to expunge the conviction from their criminal record, as long as they’ve stayed out of trouble with the law since the offense, waited 10 years before filing, and met a few other qualifying conditions. Learn more about expunging a North Carolina Felony Conviction here.

Nonviolent Class H & I felony convictions may be able to be expunged from a person's criminal background under North Carolina law if the conviction constitutes the person's sole criminal record (excluding traffic offenses), and 10 years have passed since successful sentence completion.
PRE-FILING CONDITIONS. Each type of Expungement contains different conditions that a person must satisfy before filing a formal petition. Some North Carolina Expungements only require that the Petitioner not be a convicted felon. Other Expungements require the Petitioner pay filing fees, wait a certain number of years from the time they’ve completed their sentence before filing a Petition, and others require an in-court hearing before a judge. Whatever your case requires, you can count on the team at Fletcher Legal to properly handle your Expungement.
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LEGISLATIVE INTENT. In order to understand North Carolina expungement law, it’s important to remember two key principals: First, the North Carolina General Assembly (N.C.G.A.) has only made these remedies available recently (mostly within the past decade). Second, it’s entirely possible for a person to qualify for expungement under more than one route; the expungements listed below often overlap. This is that while the N.C.G.A. has expanded expungements over the past decade by passing new laws (covering more criminal history entries, and covering more people), they have not gone back and rewritten previous legislation.

A PERSON MAY QUALIFY FOR MORE THAN ONE TYPE OF EXPUNGEMENT. For example: a person may qualify to expunge a nonviolent misdemeanor conviction that occurred when they were 17 years old under both N.C.G.S. ⸹ 15A-145 and N.C.G.S. ⸹ 15A-145.5. This makes sense if you think about it: the N.C.G.A. began the process of expanding expungements with a small start, and only allowing people who were under 18 at the time of offense to expunge youthful convictions. After a few years, they expanded the law to cover any nonviolent misdemeanor – no matter how old the person was when it occurred – after a specified number of years have passed.

LET OUR TEAM OF EXPUNGEMENT PROFESSIONALS HELP! Once you bring on your team, you don’t have to worry about which expungement you qualify for. Our team of professionals will walk you through a series of questions, designed by attorneys with years of experience in the field, to determine the types of relief available. We explain all the options available – you call the shots and determine what direction we take your case.
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EXPUNGEMENTS TAKE A LONG TIME. The process of expunging charges and convictions in North Carolina takes time; it’s not something that can be accomplished overnight. We advise applying for an expungement as soon as it becomes available; once you become eligible, it does not mean that you’ll be eligible forever. If you later commit a crime, or are even accused of committing a crime, you could be disqualified from obtaining an expungement forever. That’s why it’s important to not waste time when you could be cleaning your criminal record.

TO OBTAIN A NORTH CAROLINA EXPUNGEMENT, a person must:

  1. CERTIFY ELIGIBILITY. Make certain they qualify for relief by discussing their case with a licensed expungement attorney; the attorney will decide which type of expungement they should apply for;

  2. OBTAIN RECORDS. The attorney will obtain copies of the person’s criminal file from both electronic court records, and/or case files maintained by the Clerk of Court where the offense occurred;

  3. DRAFT PAPERWORK. The attorney will complete the paperwork required by the State; if the wrong paperwork is completed, it could take a year or more before anyone discovers the mistake;

  4. FILE PAPERWORK AND PAY ANY REQUIRED FEES. The attorney files the person’s expungement with the Clerk of Court in the county where the charge or conviction occurred;

  5. CLERK SENDS PETITION TO JUDGE. The Clerk of Court stamps the documents as “filed,” before sending it before a local judge for review;

  6. JUDGE SENDS PETITION TO RALEIGH. The local judge reviews the paperwork (which could take days, or even weeks), then submits the packet to Raleigh for review;

  7. PETITION REVIEWED BY SBI AND AOC. The paperwork is reviewed by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (N.C. S.B.I.) and the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (N.C. A.O.C.). Both Agencies make sure that the Petitioner meets all the conditions and requirements to be granted an expungement before sending the paperwork back to the county where it was originally filed. Notices are sent to the police, the sheriff, and any other local agencies that may maintain records of the charge or conviction that must be sealed. This stage can take a year or longer, which is why it’s important to apply for an expungement as soon as a person becomes eligible;

  8. SBI AND AOC SEND PETITION BACK TO LOCAL CLERK. Once the Clerk of Court receives the paperwork back from Raleigh, one of two things can happen. First, some types of expungements are automatically granted once the paperwork is returned. In these cases, the Clerk enters the expungement and seals the file. Other types of expungements require an in-court hearing before a judge, who has discretion whether to grant the expungement. In these cases, the burden is on the attorney to determine when the paperwork has been received by the local Clerk, and to schedule a hearing. If a hearing is not scheduled, the expungement is never officially granted, and the records are never officially sealed;

  9. SOME EXPUNGEMENTS REQUIRE IN-COURT HEARINGS. For cases that require hearings, both the person requesting relief and their attorney are present to present facts about why the expungement should be granted. Notice must be given to the District Attorney, who may be required under state law to notify any victims of the crime and give them an opportunity to also be heard. If the judge agrees that an expungement should be granted, the file is returned to the Clerk, who begins the sealing process of local court records; AND

  10. NOTIFY 3RD PARTIES. In both types of cases, more work is still required. Although state agencies, including the police, the local sheriff, and the court have been order to seal these records, 3rd party background check companies may still maintain records of the arrest, the charge, or the conviction. Either the person who filed, or their attorney, must put 3rd parties on notice that their records are incorrect, and begin the process of removing outdated entries from background checks.
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HOW A NORTH CAROLINA EXPUNGEMENT ATTORNEY CAN HELP

WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK. At Fletcher Legal, we’re with you every step of the way throughout the expungement process. We realize that for people who aren’t familiar with the court system, removing an entry from their criminal history can be a daunting process. Attorney Derek R. Fletcher has a decade of experience filings different types of expungements and has made the process as easy as possible. We’re in it for the long haul, and when the case is in our hands, you can be confident that your expungement is being handled by professionals.
WE’VE MADE IT EASIER THAN EVER TO EXPUNGE CHARGES & CONVICTIONS. Obtaining an Expungement in North Carolina is now easier – and less expensive – than ever before! At Fletcher Legal, we saw an opportunity: no one had automated the expungement process. Most of the other guys required an in-person consultation, or at the very least, a phone consultation. We had a dream: to automate the process of obtaining a North Carolina Expungement, and as a result, we’ve been able to cut attorney’s fees in half! Here’s how we’ve changed the game:
  • FILE ONLINE. Instead of meeting with an attorney to determine eligibility, we allow people to determine whether they’re eligible by answering a few simple questions online!

  • GATHER THE FACTS. Instead of attorneys making special appearances in court to gather information, we help you obtain the required information yourself!

  • COMPLETE WEB FORMS. Instead of an attorney completing all the required paperwork, simply enter the requested information online through our automated web form process – the paperwork is generated automatically and emailed to our staff!

  • OUR TEAM REVIEWS ACCURACY. We review the documents for accuracy, then file a packet with the court on your behalf! Or, if you prefer, we will give specific instructions explaining how to file the paperwork yourself!

  • CLEAN UP YOUR CRIMINAL HISTORY WITHOUT LEAVING HOME. You can now obtain a North Carolina Expungement entirely online, without ever leaving your living room. And, if you ever have any questions, you can call, text, email, or video conference our Expungement professionals at any point to ask for help. To begin the online Expungement process, CLICK HERE.

WHERE WE GO: GEOGRAPHIC PRACTICE AREAS

Although we travel across the entire State of North Carolina – to each and every District and Superior Court – we are based in Charlotte. You could say that our home base consists of the following:

Serving: Mecklenburg, Union, Gaston, Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, Cleveland, Lincoln, Stanly, Davidson, Catawba, and Anson Counties, as well as Charlotte, Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Lake Norman, Mooresville, Troutman, Statesville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Harrisburg, Weddington, Waxhaw, Indian Trail, Monroe, Wadesboro, Wingate, Polkton, Concord, Kannapolis, China Grove, Salisbury, Lexington, Thomasville, High Point, Denver, Lincolnton, Newton, Conover, Hickory, Belmont, Lowell, Mt. Holly, Lowesville, Gastonia, Dallas, Bessemer City, Kings Mountain, Shelby, Pineville, Midland, Locust, Albemarle, Rockingham, Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington.

FLETCHER LEGAL HELPS CLIENTS JUST LIKE YOU!

SERIOUS CASES REQUIRE SERIOUS REPRESENTATION. If you or someone you know has questions restoring their firearm rights, or to begin the process of restoring your gun rights now, call FLETCHER LEGAL at 704-747-7262, shoot that number a text, step into our virtual lobby for a video call, or book an appointment now for your free case evaluation. Fletcher Legal has helped clients restore North Carolina firearm rights, appeal from pistol purchase denials, and challenge concealed carry decisions. We conduct independent investigations in every case we take, which reduces denials, and ensures a smooth hearing.
VIRTUAL SERVICES REDUCE CLIENT EXPENSES. Schedule an appointment today to speak with Attorney Fletcher, either by video call, text message, or phone call. We offer flexible payment arrangements, independent investigations, and 24 x 7 emergency services. Book an appointment online now to begin building your defense.
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