Criminal Justice Reforms for Nonviolent Offenses Approved by N.C. House in Second Chance Act

The state House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation last Wednesday to reform criminal justice expunction laws and provide a ‘second chance’ to citizens convicted of certain nonviolent offenses in North Carolina.Senate Bill 562 Second Chance Act makes changes to North Carolina’s expunction laws. The legislation includes the following key reforms: 

  • Allows the expunction of certain misdemeanors and felonies while a person was less than 18 years of age but at least 16 years of age, but excludes impaired driving or any offense requiring registration as a sex offender.
  • Automatically expunges criminal charges that are dismissed or result in findings of not guilty after December 1, 2020.
  • Allows district attorneys to petition courts for expunctions of dismissed charges or charges for which a petitioner was found not guilty.
  • Removes the requirement that a petitioner for expunction not have a previous felony conviction.
  • Allows individuals to petition for expunction of all nonviolent misdemeanor convictions after a 7 year wait period.
  • Includes victims’ rights provisions.

Expunged criminal records will still be accessible by district attorneys, law enforcement and considered by courts for sentencing if an individual with an expunction re-offends. 

Representative John Hardister (R-Guildord) released the following statement: “Criminal justice reform is critical to expanding our State’s workforce for businesses and creating more economic opportunity across North Carolina,” said Rep. Hardister.

NC House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also released a statement: “North Carolina has followed the President’s lead to enact balanced criminal justice reform that offers nonviolent offenders a true second chance to advance in our economy, to benefit their families, and to find a new future in our state alongside their fellow citizens,” Speaker Moore said.