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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 A MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION

North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney • Misdemeanors • Felonies • Impaired Driving (DWI / DUI) • Traffic • Drug Crimes • Driver License Restorations
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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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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.
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THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM RARELY SHOWS MERCY TOWARDS THOSE CHARGED WITH IMPAIRED DRIVING. Whether you’ve been accused of Drunk Driving, Drugged Driving, Boating While Impaired, Driving after consuming < 21, or even Driving after consuming lawfully prescribed medication, the consequences are all equally serious. The State will attack you with every tool in their arsenal. If you are found guilty, or plead guilty to Impaired Driving, you’re facing serious, and long-lasting consequences, including:

  • Having a permanent criminal record;

  • Professional License Revocation or Suspension;

  • Expensive Fines;

  • House Arrest;

  • Supervised Probation;

  • Unsupervised Probation;

  • Community Service;

  • Jail or Prison Sentence;

  • CAM (Continuous Alcohol Monitoring) Bracelet;

  • Court Costs;

  • Mandatory Substance Abuse Treatment;

  • Ankle Monitor;

  • Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation.

IMPAIRED DRIVING CHARGES ARE EXTREMELY TECHNICAL, PERHAPS MORE SO THAN MURDER. Driving While Impaired [DWI] (also called Driving Under the Influence [DUI], Drugged Driving [Drug DWI] or simply “Impaired Driving”) are perhaps the most technical crimes in the entire State Code. And beating a DWI charge, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with how much you blew, what the cops found in your car, or or whether you were driving on a suspended or valid license. These cases, more so than any other, depend entirely on the most minute of details only a trained professional would possibly recognize.

STALE CASES BECOME HARDER TO DEFEND WITH EVERY PASSING DAY. It’s absolutely critical that you move fast, because over time, your defense becomes increasingly more difficult. Over time, evidence disappears, witnesses move across the country, and video surveillance tapes are deleted to clear hard drive space. As a general rule, the quicker you act, the better odds you have of securing a great outcome.
WE ALWAYS SET OUR CLIENTS UP FOR SUCCESS. Even when it looks like the cards are all stacked against you, we’re frequently able to help our first-time clients obtain Limited Driving Priviliges so that they can drive to school and to work. No matter how bad it looks, with enough time on our side, we’re almost always able to position our clients into the very best of light when they one day appear before a judge. And although every case is factually different, we consistently aim for the best scenario under any given set of facts.
HOW MUCH IS YOUR FUTURE WORTH? Never bargain shop when it comes to your future, your family, or your livelihood! When looking for a DWI attorney, you should have only one hiring criteria on your mind: who can get the job done. And although I would never tell you who to hire or not hire, if you’re able to persuade an attorney to lower his fee for you – who else do you think can persuade that same attorney? How well do you believe they’ll fight for you?

HOW A LAWYER CAN HELP WITH YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGE(S)

SENTENCING. Once you’re past the guilt or innocence phase, and the judge is about to enter judgment, your lawyer has an opportunity to recommend a particular sentence to the court. A good lawyer can clearly and convincingly articulate to the judge why you acted the way you did, what you have done to repair the damage you caused, and any other factors that mitigate your culpability in the offense. Defense Counsel’s primary duty, at this stage, is to seek (and persuade a judge) to sentence the defendant near the minimum sentence. This isn’t always easy; especially when a District Attorney adamantly demands he be sentenced to the max.
MITIGATING FACTORS. An experienced attorney will learn what remedial actions his client has taken pre-trial, and explain how they should mitigate the sentence. Has the defendant voluntarily entered substance abuse treatment after being charged with a DWI/DUI? If so, Counsel should mention that the client sought treatment voluntarily, whether the treatment was inpatient or outpatient, how long the program lasted, whether the client has a sponsor, how many AA or NA meetings a week they attend, and that they just picked up a 90 day chip.

Experienced lawyers know what facts will mitigate the damage at sentencing, and can be the difference between community service and active jail time.

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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NORTH CAROLINA’S DRUGGED DRIVING LAW

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.

Read More »

Serious cases require serious representation.

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MISDEMEANOR CONVICTIONS

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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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HOW TO EXPUNGE A NORTH CAROLINA MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION

STATE LAW GENERALLY ALLOWS NON-VIOLENT, MISDEMEANOR CONVICTIONS TO BE EXPUNGED, OR REMOVED, FROM A PERSON’S CRIMINAL RECORD. 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 sentance.

IF YOU MEET THE CONDITIONS TO EXPUNGE A MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ACT FAST. 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.

WE DON’T DO THIS TO GET RICH; WE HELP PEOPLE RETURN THEIR LIVES BACK TO NORMAL. The result of a successful petition allows a person to return to the legal status they occupied prior to conviction. This effectively means that after a person’s Misdemeanor Expungement Petition is grated, it need not be disclosed in job interviews, and may be removed from a person’s criminal background history.

EXPUNGEMENT OF NC MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION - REQUIRED PETITON CONTENTS

  1. Form AOC-CR-281;

  2. Petitioner’s Affidavit;

  3. Two Character Affidavits;

  4. A certified check or money order in the amount of $175 made payable to the Clerk of Court;

  5. One copy of the Petition and included documents must be filed with the Clerk of Court in the County where the felony conviction occurred; and

  6. One copy of the Petition, the included documents, and a Certificate of Service must be filed with the District Attorney’s Office in the County where the felony conviction occurred.

PREREQUISITES TO FILING AN EXPUNGEMENT PETITION

THE STATE DOESN’T MAKE IS EASY. Before a person can Petition for the removal of a North Carolina Misdemeanor Conviction, they must meet each and every condition required by law. Moreover, not every misdemeanor conviction may be expunged, even if the Petitioner meets every other condition.

To successfully expunge a North Carolina Misdemeanor Conviction, state law requires:

  • The crime to be expunged must be a non-violent offense;
  • Before filing an Expungement Petition, a person must wait at least 5 years from the date their sentence was completed;
  • The Petitioner may not have any prior, nor any subsequent, misdemeanor or felony convictions, except for traffic offenses;
  • The Petitioner must submit a sworn Affidavit of their good character, along with 2 sworn character references from non-related persons who are familiar with Petitioner’s reputation within the community;
  • The Petitioner must have successfully completed every condition of his misdemeanor sentence, repaid all owed restitution, and may not have any civil judgments against him resulting from restitution that he owes the victim;
  • The Petitioner may not have any pending warrants, orders for arrest, pending criminal charges, and cannot have previously received expungement relief in North Carolina. ON TOP OF ALL THAT, THE TRIAL JUDGE STILL HAS THE DISCRETION TO DENY THE EXPUNGEMENT AFTER A HEARING IN OPEN COURT!

OF COURSE THERE ARE TONS OF EXCEPTIONS, EXCLUSIONS, AND LOOPHOLES SCATTERED THROUGHOUT THESE REQUIREMENTS, which we will discuss here in detail:

THE CRIME TO BE EXPUNGED MUST BE A NON-VIOLENT OFFENSE.

ONLY CLASS 1 – 3 MISDEMEANORS MAY BE EXPUNGED. Class A1 misdemeanors, along with class A through G felonies, may not be expunged.  Any conviction for a crime containing assault as an essential element is not eligible to be expunged. Although opinions differ, the majority view is that the proper offense classification is the classification at the time of the offense.

Certain domestic violence misdemeanors, ass well as misdemeanor assaults, are not eligible for expungement relief.

Other crimes, such as those requiring sex offender registration, are also not eligible for expungement. Please contact our office with specific questions as to whether the crime you seek to expunge is eligible for relief.

JUDGES HAVE DISCRETION WHETHER TO GRANT OR DENY THE EXPUNGEMENT PETITION.

The plain language of the law seems to imply that a trial judge, after conducting a hearing on the merits of the Expungement Petition, has a certin level of discretion whether to grant or deny Petitioner’s expungement. Although there are not yet state appellate opinions interpreting this specific language contained in N.C.G.S. 15A-145.5, opinions in neighboring states have overturned expungement denials where the petitioner has demonstrated they have met all conditions for eligibility, and that no further evidence of poor character or bad acts have been introduced to discredit the Petitioner.

MANDATORY WAITING PERIOD BETWEEN SENTENCE COMPLETION OF PETITION FILING

Before filing an Expungement Petition, 5 years must have elapsed, beginning with whichever of these two dates occurred later:

  1. The date of conviction; or

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

Although the waiting period can seem long and arduous, it’s important to remember 2 critical facts:

First, North Carolina’s Expungement laws, particularly N.C.G.S. 15A-145.5, which allows people to expunge both Misdemeanor and Felony convictions that occurred at any age, are reletively progressive compared to other states. Ten states have no general sealing or expunging procedure in place for adult convictions whatsoever, including:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Virginia
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • The Federal Judiciary

While these states occasionally use different mechanisms to achieve similiar results, such as pardons, or deferred adjudications, they offer nowhere near the relief granted under the North Carolina Expungement statutes. And although it’s not perfect, and there is always room for improvement, We are certainly fortunate for the relief that North Carolina law does provide.

Second, when N.C.G.S. 15A-145.4 was codified in 2011, the original legislation called for a 15 year waiting period before a petitioner becoming eligible to file for relief. It was only just a few years ago that the General Assembly amended the legislation, and with it, the mandatory waiting periods for both Misdemeanor and Felony Conviction Expungements.

NO PRIOR CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS ALLOWED

IN ORDER TO EXPUNGE AN ADULT MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION, THE PETITIONER MAY NOT HAVE MISDEMEANOR OR FELONY CONVICTIONS THAT OCCURED PRIOR TO THE OFFENSE THEY SEEK TO EXPUNGE. There is, however, an exception to the “no-prior-conviction” condition which allows conviction of traffic offenses that occured prior to the offense that the Petitioner now seeks to expunge. The term “Traffic Offenses,” although not expressly defined elsewhere in the statutes, or even addressed by appellate decisions, has been interpreted on a widespread basis as referring to Chapter 20 offenses, including Driving While Impaired (DWI).

The University of North Carolina’s School of Government has an excellent article on the subject, where the author assesses the likely intent of the General Assembly in their inclusion, yet lack of definition, of “Traffic Offenses.” The author says:

“Some Chapter 20 violations do not involve traffic matters in the customary sense, and some statutes in other chapters could be considered as involving traffic matters, but it seems unlikely that the General Assembly intended for the courts to engage in a statute-by-statute and case-by-case determination of whether an offense is or is not a traffic violation. In light of the volume of expunction requests received by the courts each year, the General Assembly more likely intended the practical approach of using Chapter 20 as the source for traffic violations.

Second, in the context of North Carolina’s relief statutes, the term “traffic violation” refers to crimes, not infractions….

Third, the wording of the relief statutes suggests that, when used, the term “traffic violation” refers to misdemeanors, not felonies.”

To summarize: a conviction for Driving While Impaired that occurred prior to the offense of the crime that the Petitioner now seeks to expunge will not disqualify and preclude Expungement, a prior conviction for any misdemeanor or felony codified outside of Chapter 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes is a disqualifier and precludes expungement of an adult felony conviction in North Carolina.

PETITIONER'S SWORN AFFIDAVIT OF GOOD CHARACTER

Petitioner’s Affidavit, which should be filed at the same time as the Expungement Petition, must be sworn and notarized under oath, and subject to penalty of perjury. It goes without saying that should the Petitioner lie about any of the statements that must be contained within the Affidavit, relief will certainly be denied. Petitioner’s Affifavit must include the following:

  • A statement that the Petitioner has had good moral character since the date of the conviction for the offense they seek to expunge;

  • That the Petitioner has had no other conviction, other than for a traffic offense, since the date of the conviction for the offense they seek to expunge;

  • A statement that the enclosed Expungement Petition is a Motion in the underlying cause;

  • That Petitioner has satisfied any
    restitution order, and that no outstanding restitution order exists.

PETITIONER MUST INCLUDE TWO ADDITIONAL CHARACTER REFERENCES

In addition to the Petitioner’s own personal Affidavit, 2 additional affidavits from character references familiar with the character and reputation of the Petitioner within the community must also be included. These character Affidavits must be sworn under oath and notarized, subject to penalty of perjury for any false statements.

The character references cannot be related to one another, nor can they be related in any way to the Petitioner. Ideally, character references should be intimately familiar with the Petitioner; they should have known the Petitioner for several years; they should be close enough to the Petitioner that if the Petitioner had committed a bad act serious enough to damage his reputation within his community, they would certainly have heard of it.

Although the Character Affidavits need not be lengthy, they should, at a minimum, include the following:

  • A statement that the Affiant is a personal acquaintance of the Defendant in the above-captioned matter;

  • A statement that the purpose of this Affidavit is to support Defendant’s petition to expunge a misdemeanor conviction from their criminal record;

  • A statement affirming that they are neither related by blood or marriage to the Defendant, nor are they related to the other Affiant in this matter. They should include the name of the other Affiant;

  • The length of time they have known the Defendant;

  • A statement affirming that the Affiant lives in the same community as the Defendant, and that they are familiar with the Defendant’s character and reputation within that same community.

  • A Statement asserting that within the community in which the Defendant and the Affiant both live, Defendant’s character and reputation in the community are both good.

Generally speaking, the longer the Affiant and Petitioner have known one another, the closer the relationship between the Affiant and Petitioner, and more familiar with Affiant is with the Petitioner and his reputation, the better. The Affidavit should be dated, signed, notarized, and included along with the Expungement Petition.

NO SUBSEQUENT CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS ALLOWED

TO EXPUNGE AN ADULT MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION, THE PETITIONER MAY NOT HAVE ANY MISDEMEANONR OR FELONY CONVICTIONS THAT OCCURRED SUBSEQUENT TO THE OFFENSE THEY SEEK TO EXPUNGE. Almost identical to the “no-prior-conviction” requirement, is a “no-subsequent-conviction” requirement. Again, the law excludes traffic offenses as bars to relief. And once again, conviction of a Driving While Impaired offense is, for purposes of Expungement, considered a “Traffic Offense,” and will not preclude the Petitioner from obtaining an Expungement.

The more interesting legal questions concerning prior and subsequent convictions barring expungement relief deal with multiple convictions resulting from the same offense, or occuring withing the same session of court. The general rule is that multiple convictions may be treated as one conviction ONLY if:

  • Convictions occurred in the same session of court; and

  • None of the offenses are alleged to have occurred after the Petitioner had already been charged with any of the offenses resulting in conviction.

District Court sessions typically last one day, and Superior Court sessions generally last either one or two weeks at a time.

NO OUTSTANDING WARRANTS OR PENDING CRIMINAL CASES ALLOWED

At the time of filing, a person seeking to expunge a North Carolina misdemeanor conviction may not have any outstanding warrants, or orders for arrest. This not only includes North Carolina arrest warrants, but warrants from any jurisdiction or state in the nation.

Pending Misdemeanor or Felony charges in any state also preclude filing an Expungement Petition, although as we’ve seen before, traffic offenses are excluded from this filing requirement yet again.

PETITIONER MUST HAVE SATISFIED ALL FINANCIAL CONDITIONS OF THE JUDGMENT HE SEEKS TO EXPUNGE

At the time the Petition is filed, the Petitioner is required to have satisfied all financial obligations resulting from his misdemeanor conviction. This includes payment of all restitution owed, all court costs, fines, and probation fees. Additionally, there may not be any civil judgment orders resulting from unpaid restitution, or failures to comply with any of the trial judge’s sentencing orders. 

PETITIONER MUST HAVE NO PRIOR EXPUNGEMENTS (WITH EXCEPTIONS)

The general rule is that the Petitioner may only obtain one expungement in North Carolina; if the Petitioner has already successfully expunged a previous charge or conviction, pursuant to one of the five statutes listed below, then they are not eligible for relief under N.C.G.S. 15A-145.5. 

A Petitioner is barred from relief under N.C.G.S. 15A-145.5 if they have successfully obtained an Expungement under any of the following statutes:

  • N.C.G.S. 15A-145 (Misdemeanor convictions for persons under age 18);

  • N.C.G.S. 15A-145.1 (Gang Offenses for persons under age 18);
  • N.C.G.S. 15A-145.2 (Dismissed Drug Charges or Convictions for persons less than 22 at the time of the Offense);
  • N.C.G.S. 15A-145.2 (Dismissed Drug Charges or Convictions for persons less than 22 at the time of the Offense);
  • N.C.G.S. 15A-145.4 (Expunction of Felony Conviction for Persons less than 18 at the time of the Offense).

However, a major loophole does exist: Petitioners may file as many expungements as necessary concerning Voluntarily Dismissed charges, Deferred Dismissals, Charges resulting in Not Guilty Verdicts, certain Prostitution Offenses, Identity Theft Cases, and Pardons of Innocence granted by the Governor (N.C.G.S. 15A-146 through 15A-149). 

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED WHEN FILING NORTH CAROLINA MISDEMEANOR EXPUNGEMENT PETITIONS

  1. Form AOC-CR-281;

  2. Petitioner’s Affidavit;

  3. Two Character Affidavits;

  4. A certified check or money order in the amount of $175 made payable to the Clerk of Court;

  5. One copy of the Petition and included documents must be filed with the Clerk of Court in the County where the felony conviction occurred; and

  6. One copy of the Petition, the included documents, and a Certificate of Service must be filed with the District Attorney’s Office in the County where the felony conviction occurred.
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