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.
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.
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:
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.