The NC Justice Center staunchly opposes efforts to repeal automatic expunction of dismissed and not guilty charges. Automated expunctions, along with petition-based expunctions, are critical for providing equitable access to record clearing.  

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024, the North Carolina House Judiciary 2 Committee approved a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) that re-wrote Senate Bill 565. The bill would now repeal the automatic expunction of not guilty and dismissed charges. The committee’s action is the start of the NC General Assembly’s failure to honor the promise it made with the NC Second Chance Act. The NC Second Chance Act was a bi-partisan bill that passed unanimously through the House and the Senate, signed into law in 2020; it expanded expunction eligibility and instituted automatic expunction for certain charges dismissed and not guilty charges. 

Please join us as we fight to Save the NC Second Chance Act.  

In North Carolina, there are approximately 1.6 million people with a criminal record.  For those individuals, who are disproportionately from communities of color, the record is a significant barrier to meaningful opportunity, such as quality employment, affordable housing, or higher education. An expunction, which is the erasure of the record, can be a lifeline to many people with records. 

Nearly 90% of people who are eligible for an expunction never receive relief. There are several factors – including the inability to navigate the criminal process, lack of awareness, complicated criteria, and financial barriers – that cause this “Second Chance Gap.” 

Automated expunction, where the expunction process is initiated by the Government instead of the defendant, is a nearly complete solution for the Second Chance Gap.    

Under the 2020 Second Chance Act, NC established automatic expunction for charges that ended in not guilty, not responsible, or dismissal on or after December 1, 2021.  

In the nine months when the automated expunctions were operational, approximately 400,000 charges were expunged. This shows a stark contrast to the average of 15,000 petition-based expunctions filed every year. Automatic expunction, along with petition-based expunction, is vital for people with dismissed or not guilty charges. They now face unjust barriers to employment, housing, and other opportunities, despite not being found guilty. 

Please join us as we fight to Save the NC Second Chance Act.