WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A law aimed to give the 1 in 4 North Carolinians who have a criminal record a chance at a clean slate hit a major milestone this month.
While many provisions of the Second Chance Act went into effect last year, some parts formally began this month.
Starting December 1, 2021, charges will be automatically removed from the records of people who are found not guilty or had the case dismissed. The automatic expunctions do not apply to convictions.
The announcement promises to impact countless lives in the future, given how costly and time consuming the process is to get charges expunged from official records.
Before this change, anyone reading the background check could still see someone was once charged with a crime. Even though the record noted the individual wasn’t convicted or the case was dismissed, that old charge appearing on transcripts still made it difficult to get a job, housing or a shot at an education.
The downside of the provision is that the automatic expunction only applies to offenses committed after Dec. 1, 2021. Its not retroactive, so the thousands of people not convicted in the past still have work to do.
“We as a whole society need to make sure that people who are found not guilty or ones that have had their case dismissed should have it removed from their records. For those who aren’t eligible for this relief by operation of law because their offense predates December 1, 2021, my office still wants to work with you to try and get the relief, but you need to get an attorney or wait for an expungement clinic where that service is offered for free through Legal Aid or one of the law student programs we bring in periodically to help with that,” said Pender and New Hanover County district attorney Ben David.
The latest provision is just one small facet of the Second Chance Act. Lobbyists are still working now to expand the rights of justice involved individuals even more in the future.
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