The penalties for a criminal charge exist to help reform criminals and deter individuals from recommitting or committing the crime at all. This is why the penalties associated with serious crimes are severe. However, when a low-level crime is committed and the accused has done their time, he or she may still face hardships when it comes to their personal and professional life. A criminal record alone could make obtaining a job challenging. Thus, it is important to understand whether one’s record could be expunged.

Second Chance Act

Back in June, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Second Chance Act. This legislation is aimed at reducing unemployment barriers experienced by those with a criminal record for non-violent misdemeanors or crimes that were dropped. A push for this legislation was based on a study that indicated that employers have a dim view of applicants that have a criminal background. This remains true for even those applicants with minor non-violent offenses or a record that indicates that the charges against them were dismissed.

But the Second Chance Act is not only concerned about the employment of these individuals. One’s personal life could be constrained because of the same reasons. Those with previous involvement with the criminal justice system could find themselves faced with difficulties when it comes to renting an apartment, getting a mortgage, obtaining student loans or even a business loan. The Second Chance Act also seeks to change this as well.

Expungement

Under this new law, those charged with certain misdemeanors and felony crimes after December 2021 would be automatically expunged if the charges are dismissed or the accused was found not guilty. Additionally, those convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors could have them expunged after illustrating seven years of good behavior. This law also impacts juveniles convicted as adults, allowing them to expunge misdemeanor and low-level felony convictions if they were 16 or 17 years of age when convicted.

Because the impact of a criminal conviction or allegation can last long after a sentence was fulfilled or charges were dismissed, it is important that individuals understand their rights when it comes to taking a stand or asserting a criminal defense.