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The Second Chance Alliance recently achieved several significant victories at the General Assembly, including: establishment of Certificates of Relief, expansion of expunctions to first-time non-violent misdemeanors and felonies, creation of a state-wide network of local reentry councils, reasonable use of criminal histories by occupational licsensing boards, and prohibition of expunction inquiry.

These policy changes are important steps forward in our work to provide relief from criminal convictions.

Certificates of Relief

Individuals with certain criminal convictions may now apply for a “Certificate of Relief” from collateral consequences. The certificate is especially valuable for individuals automatically barred from certain occupational licensures based on their criminal convictions. Obtaining a certificate of relief overcomes such automatic bars; moreover, a certificate of relief is considered favorably in situations where occupational licensing agencies are allowed the discretion to deny a license based on a criminal conviction. A certificate of relief does not result in an expunction or pardon of the conviction. Importantly, an employer who hires an individual with a criminal record is protected against claims of negligent hiring.

The basic requirements of gaining the certificate are as follows:

  • the person must have been convicted of no more than two Class G, H, or I felonies or misdemeanors in one session of court and have no other convictions,
  • twelve months have passed since the person completed his or her sentence,
  • the person is engaged in or is seeking to engage in a lawful occupation or activity,
  • the person has no criminal charges pending,
  • the person has complied with all requirements of the person’s sentence,
  • granting the petition would not pose an unreasonable risk to the safety or welfare of the public

For more information visit here: Session Law 2011-265

Certificate of Relief Petition and Order

Second Chance Lobby Day

One of the most important opportunities to voice your support for second chances is our third biannual “Second Chance Lobby Day” which was held at the North Carolina Legislative Building on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Read more about the event here.

At past events we have voiced our support for a variety of specific reforms that provide genuine restorative opportunities to individuals ready and willing to move beyond their criminal records and contribute to their families and communities. Each participant will have the opportunity to speak directly with legislators.

Click here for a flyer.

Rep. David Guice (R-Henderson, Polk, Transylvania) participating in Second Chance Lobby Day. Rep. Guice, a former probation officer, sponsored The Certificate of Relief Act and the Justice Reinvestment Act.


Expunction of Non-violent Misdemeanors and Felonies

The General Assembly passed two laws expanding expunction opportunities to nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies.

Expunction of a Non-violent Felony Committed Before Age 18

An individual who has no other criminal conviction and committed a nonviolent felony before age 18 may petition for expunction of the conviction from the person’s criminal record.

To be eligible for this expunction:

  • at least 4 years must have passed since the date of the conviction or the completion of any active sentence, period of probation, or post-release supervision, whichever is later;
  • 100 hours of community service must have been performed by the individual.

For more information visit here: Session Law 2011-278

Expunction of a Nonviolent Misdemeanor or Felony at Any Age

An individual who has no other criminal conviction and committed a nonviolent misdemeanor or felony may petition for expunction of the conviction from the person’s criminal record.

To be eligible for this expunction:

  • at least 15 years must have passed since the date of the conviction or the completion of any active sentence, period of probation, or post-release supervision, whichever is later.

For more information visit here: Session Law 2012-191


Local Reentry Councils

The General Assembly ordered the Department of Public Safety to work with local communities to create between 3 and 10 local reentry councils to develop comprehensive local reentry plans, to document and maximize the use of existing services, and to supervise and coordinate innovative responses to the reintegration of individuals with criminal records at the local level. The NC Second Chance Alliance has been working with the Department of Public Safety to create these councils and will continue to do so. Additionally, legislators ordered the Department of Public Safety to establish a state-level advisory board with representation of reentry involved state agencies, service providers, and directly impacted individual.

In addition to these legislative efforts, the NC Second Chance Alliance continues to promote Ban the Box practices in communities around the state as well as host public education events explaining the tools of relief that are currently available to individuals with criminal records.


Reasonable Use of Criminal Records by Occupational Licensing Boards

Hundreds of occupations in North Carolina require some form of licensure. In fact, these occupations constitute approximately 30 percent of all jobs.5  Consequently, well over one million North Carolinians—from lawyers to embalmers, plumbers to exterminators—must satisfy statutory and administrative requirements in order to work in their chosen fields.

The vast majority of North Carolina’s occupational licensing statutes give licensing boards and agencies the discretion to deny or revoke licensure based on various types of criminal convictions. These discretionary disqualifications, along with a handful of automatic bars to licensure, often prevent individualized assessments of the risk demonstrated by applicants’ criminal records, resulting in unnecessary denials of licensure. Traditionally, only a small number of these statutes have provided guidance on how to appropriately identify and weigh the risk of an applicant’s inability to satisfy the responsibilities of an occupation based on his prior criminal conduct.

Daniel Bowes and Bill Rowe highlighted this problem in an article for the North Carolina Bar Association, “Facilitating Individualized Assessments of Individuals with Criminal Records in Occupational Licensing Decisions.” In response to this article and further efforts by the Second Chance Alliance, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Session Law 2013-24. The new law is now in effect and prohibits licensing boards from automatically disqualifying individuals based on their criminal records, unless required to do so by statute. The law further requires licensing boards to consider 8 factors in weighing their decision, including how long ago the conviction(s) occurred and the nexus between the criminal activity and the duties of the occupation. Since the passage of this law, the NC Second Chance Alliance has worked with licensing boards to ensure their rules and practices are in compliance with this new law. We believe passage of this law and our ongoing partnerships with occupational licensing boards will help individuals with criminal histories move beyond their criminal records and contribute to their communities. Special thanks to the bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Hartsell.


Prohibit Expunction Inquiry

An unfortunate and growing trend among North Carolina employers were questions on employment application forms regarding whether or not job applicants had received an expunction of criminal records. Such inquiries had the intended effect of completely circumventing North Carolina’s expunction laws. Fortunately, Session Law 2013-53 stops this trend by explicitly prohibiting such inquiries.


Legislative Alerts

Alliance Events

Photos and Videos from past events

Alliance in the Media

Second Chance Alliance brings personal stories to the forefront, Triangle Tribune, April 25

Greensboro workshop focuses on cleaning up criminal records, Greensboro News & Record, February 28

Forgiving vs. forgetting, The Marshall Project, March 17

N.C. alliance seeks relief for ex-cons, News & Observer, May 5

’Second Chance’ Laws Sought,, May 5

Are Mug Shots Public Documents? Coates Local Government Blog, UNC School of Government

Working to Help Others Leave Crime Behind, The American Lawyer, June 2013

Clinic gives hope for easing effect of criminal past, Elizabeth City Daily Advance - Chowan Herald, December, 17, 2012

New NC law will expunge records for thousands with older convictions, WSOC-TV, November 30, 2012

New Law Aids Job Seeks With Criminal Convictions, Burlington Times-News, October 6, 2012

New Website Shows Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction, The Legal Times, Sept. 20, 2012

NAACP Annual Convention, Felony Disenfranchisement Panel, July 9, 2012, Dennis Gaddy

Offering Second Chances, Ending Collateral Consequences by Daniel Bowes, Policy & Progress, Summer 2012

Law Clears Slate for Felons, The Charlotte Post, July 19, 2012


Reentry in the Media

Reentry Councils Work Help Ex-inmates Transition, Virginia Pilot, June 30, 2013

New York’s Innovative Solution to Crime: Betting on Success, Huffington Post, August 21, 2012

Employment Background Screening Company to Pay $2.6 Million Penalty for Multiple Violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Federal Trade Commission, August 8, 2012

U.S. Push on Illegal Bias Against Hiring Those With Criminal Records, New York Times, June 20, 2012.


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