Efforts to Alleviate the Expunction Delays – Here’s the Bad News
In an effort to alleviate expunction delays, fees for almost all expunctions have been increased by the 2013 NC Appropriations Act.
A major obstacle for those who qualify for an expungement in North Carolina has been the expunction delays set in place by a state budget deficit that crippled the agencies charged with running background checks for applicants. As previously noted (See Expunction Process Delays – the Good News), the state’s 2013 Appropriations Act directs the fees that are charged by the state for expunctions to these agencies, which should allow for more personnel to be hired to run the required background checks.
The state legislature, however, went one step further in providing additional revenues to these agencies by raising the fees that are charged by the state for expunctions. As of September 1, 2013 the state fee that must be paid increases to $175.00 for all expunctions, with one exception noted below.
These increases raise all the fees for expunctions to the level introduced in 2012 with the legislation that allows expunction of certain convictions for those over the age of 18 at the time of the offense. This legislation greatly expanded the number of people who qualify for an expunction of their criminal record (See A Criminal Conviction May Qualify for Expunction / Expungement).
As a result of the increase in fees, several types of expunctions that had no state fee now will require payment of the $175.00. Perhaps the most controversial is for expunction of dismissals.
Under the new fee schedule, dismissals that are obtained as the result of a deferred prosecution agreement in which the defendant agrees to certain conditions in exchange for a dismissal will now incur the $175.00 fee should one wish to expunge the criminal record of the charge. There remains no fee if a defendant challenges the charges and the district attorney decides not to prosecute or the defendant is found not guilty. After September 1st, these are the only circumstances under which no fee is assessed by the state for an expunction.
As a result of these changes, those arrested at the Moral Monday protests who accept the reported offer by the Wake County District Attorney to complete 25 hours of community service in exchange for a dismissal of the charges (as reported HERE) will incur a state fee of $175.00 in addition to any legal fees should they seek to have the dismissed charge expunged.
For some in this and similar situations the additional fee may impact the decision whether to challenge their particular criminal charge. Some deferred prosecutions already require payment of a $250.00 supervision fee. With the additional $175.00 fee for an expunction in these circumstances, more people may decide to take their chances in court. The result may be an increase in the number of trials for a district attorney, something that deferred prosecutions were intended to reduce.
In the end, the new fees should increase the resources available to fund the background checks that are required for expunctions and help with the current expunction delays. Whether they create other problems remains to be seen.
If you have a criminal record that you wish to have expunged or need additional information, contact Xpunctions.com by phone, email or the Contact Form on this website.