What we do

Criminal Record Expunction

Minor offenses and misdemeanors on one’s criminal record create significant barriers to economic stability and opportunity. Through its Community Empowerment Project, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy helps low-income N.C. residents get their criminal records expunged allowing them to pursue a broader range of employment opportunities.

More than one in five North Carolinians has a criminal record. Too often, individuals are automatically denied employment, housing, and other opportunities, based on past involvement with the criminal justice system, including dismissed charges and long-ago convictions. Through our individual representation and advocacy, we seek to help people with a criminal record have a fair chance at productive citizenship.

What is an expunction?

In North Carolina, an expunction (also called “expungement”) is the destruction of a criminal record by court order.

North Carolina has recently expanded expunction eligibility for criminal charges that do not result in conviction. However, opportunities to expunge convictions are limited, and eligibility depends on the type of offense, when it occurred, and whether other offenses appear on the record.

For a detailed analysis of eligibility, please see the N.C. Justice Center’s 2018 Summary of North Carolina Expunctions.

On June 25, 2020, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Second Chance Act into law, expanding the ability for more N.C. residents to expunge charges and old convictions from their records.

The Second Chance Act:

  • Provides automatic relief for certain misdemeanor and felony charges that are dismissed or disposed “not guilty.”
  • Grants relief for Juvenile offenders by allowing the expunction of misdemeanor and Class H or I felony convictions that occurred when a person was either 16 or 17 and before December 1, 2019.
  • Gives prosecutors the power to petition for the expunction of dismissed charges and charges disposed “not guilty” as well as “Raise the Age” convictions.
  • Expands eligibility by allowing individuals to petition for the expunction of nonviolent misdemeanor criminal convictions after seven years of good behavior.

Get help

If you have a criminal record and want to find out if you are eligible for an expunction, call 704-376-1600 ext 510 to speak to someone about your situation and register for our expunction clinics. At the clinic, you will receive a free copy of your statewide criminal record and meet with an attorney to understand whether you are eligible for an expunction. If you are eligible, your case will be placed with a staff or volunteer attorney to help you complete the process.

To qualify for our services, you must:

* Live in Mecklenburg County

* Earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level

* NOT have any pending criminal charges

We cannot assist clients seeking an expungement of an out-of-state criminal record.