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Criminal Record Expunction
We are a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.

Criminal Record Expunction

 Self-Help Materials

   DO NOT use these materials for traffic records, juvenile records, or conviction records!

Use these materials only if:

  • You are age 18 or older

  • You have criminal offense records only in North Carolina, and

  • You have no felony conviction record anywhere

  • and

  • You have one or more dismissed charge records in North Carolina

  • You have one or more not guilty decision records in North Carolina

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED:

You should not use these materials if any of the following apply to you. These recommendations do not mean that the courts cannot grant an expunction.

  • You have a criminal offense conviction outside North Carolina. This does not include traffic violations. A conviction record outside the state could mean that the North Carolina courts cannot grant an expunction. If you have a criminal conviction record outside North Carolina, you should talk with a lawyer in private practice about your situation.

  • You have an open, active or pending misdemeanor or felony case in criminal court in North Carolina or anywhere else. This does not include traffic violations. If you have an open case, no court decision has been made. You should wait until that case is decided before you ask the courts for any expunction.

  • You are working with the district attorney (DA) in a deferred prosecution agreement. If you are working with the DA, your criminal court case is active. The courts cannot expunge that case information now. You should wait until the court decision is made. If the charge is dismissed, then you can ask the courts for expunction.

  • You are working with the district attorney (DA) in a conditional discharge and dismissal agreement. If you are working with the DA, your criminal court case is active. The courts cannot expunge that case information now. You should wait until the court decision is made. If the charge is dismissed, then you can ask the courts for expunction.

  • You owe the courts for any court costs, appointed lawyer fees, fines, restitution, jail fees, or a judgment for those expenses. If you owe any payment to the courts, it is very likely that the courts will find the debt when you ask for expunction. The courts can seek payment from you. Pay the debt before you ask for any expunction.

  • You are serving parole or probation due to a criminal conviction. You should meet all criminal court sentence and post-sentence requirements before you ask for any expunction. This does not include probation due to traffic violations.

  • You are performing community service due to a criminal conviction. You should finish community service before you ask for any expunction. This does not include community service due to traffic violations.

In order to ask the courts for expunction of a record, you must file a petition. You must file a petition to ask for expunction in the county where the court decision was made.

The expunction petition process is not the same in every county.

You must review the information for each county where you file a petition.

In some places, a person must appear before a judge to get the expunction process started. Sometimes, the person must return to court to appear for a hearing.

In most places, a hearing is required. In some places, no hearing is required.

Legal Aid of North Carolina does not handle active criminal court cases. You should consult your criminal defense lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you may contact the Lawyer Referral Service toll free at 800.662.7660 or visit www.NCFindALawyer.org. The staff there will give you contact information for an attorney, who will give you a brief consultation for a fee.

Terms

Appear means that you report to court at a set time and date.

Clerk of Court is the title of a person who is a court official. There is a clerk's office in each county in North Carolina. The people at the office are court staff. They are also called clerks.

Expunction is the removal of information from the court records.

File means that you deliver your documents to the clerk of court.

Filing fee is the cost that the court charges for accepting documents.

Hearing is the term for a court review and decision about a case.

Judge is the title of a person who is a court official. A judge makes decisions about expunction requests.

Indigent is a low-income person. You might or might not be an indigent.

Petition is the name of a type of document. A petition is a request.