Nearly 1 in 4 North Carolinians has a criminal record; this landmark piece of bipartisan legislation allows hundreds of thousands of people with criminal records to have their records expunged.
The transformative legislation of the Second Chance Act was made possible by a broad range of stakeholders, especially people with criminal records, their family members, and other members of the NC Second Chance Alliance, including the NC Justice Center. For almost two years, these groups engaged with legislators at the General Assembly and in their communities, sharing personal stories and urging policymakers to restore opportunities for prosperity.
North Carolina’s “revolving door” criminal justice system has devastated communities around the state, and disproportionately impact Black communities and other people of color. Those with criminal records face debilitating collateral consequences, which often exclude them from jobs, housing, and other supports.
The Second Chance Act provides clean slate relief through:
AUTOMATIC RELIEF. Certain misdemeanor and felony charges that are dismissed or disposed “not guilty” on or after December 1, 2021, will be automatically expunged so that individuals will not have to file expungement petitions with the court to remove certain dismissed charges from their record.
PROVIDING EXPUNCTION RELIEF FOR CONVICTIONS OF OFFENSES TREATED AS JUVENILE OFFENSES UNDER RAISE THE AGE. A person or prosecutor will be able to petition for expunction of all misdemeanor and Class H or I felony convictions that occurred when a person was aged 16 or 17 and prior to Dec. 1, 2019 (the effective date of Raise the Age).
ALLOWS ALL MISDEMEANOR AND FELONY CHARGES THAT HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE DISMISSED OR DISPOSED “NOT GUILTY” TO BE EXPUNGED BY PETITION. Eliminates the “felony disqualification” so that beginning December 1, 2020, a felony conviction will no longer disqualify a person from expunging dismissed and “not guilty” charges.
PROSECUTOR-INITIATED RELIEF. A prosecutor may petition for expunction of dismissed charges and charges disposed “not guilty” and “Raise the Age” convictions.
EXPANDING ELIGIBILITY TO MULTIPLE NONVIOLENT CONVICTIONS. A person may petition for expunction of multiple nonviolent misdemeanor convictions after 7 years of good behavior.