Expunction Process Delays – The Good News

Here’s the Good News Regarding Delays in the Expunction Process

Additional revenues and personnel to handle the expunction process provided to agencies by the 2013 NC Appropriations Act.

In the last couple of years the state legislature has enacted several laws to decrease the consequences of a criminal record. Among these efforts was an expansion of the types of crimes that can be expunged, thereby increasing the number of citizens who qualify for an expunction of their criminal record ( See A Criminal Conviction May Qualify for Expunction / Expungement). In addition, the legislature has made some changes that make obtaining an expungement more attractive including a new law that restricts who can ask about records that have been expunged (See New Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Rules for Expunctions) and has created guidelines for how a criminal record should be weighed by an occupational licensing board when considering an application (See Criminal Records and Occupational Licenses). These efforts are to be commended.

As for expunging one’s criminal records, however, there has remained a significant obstacle in the expunction process. What used to take a month or less can take 6 months or longer today.

With the state budget crisis of a few years back the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) had their resources cut. Both of these are involved in the expunction process.

Expunction Process

Image from NC State Library

The SBI has to search criminal records to confirm that there are no additional convictions that can disqualify an applicant. The AOC has to search for prior expunctions that likewise can disqualify the applicant. Unfortunately, these services were severely curtailed as a result of budget constraints, which has in turn created a severe backlog and delay in securing a court ordered expunction.

Under provisions in the recently passed budget appropriations act, the fees that are charged by the state for certain expunctions will be directed to the SBI and AOC instead of going into the general fund. The SBI will receive the greater proportion (70%) of the fees, which will allow for the creation and support of 5 new staff positions to help process petitions for expunctions and perform the criminal background checks.

The reapportionment of these fees becomes effective September 1, 2013. It is the hope of those who lobbied for these changes that the backlog and delay in the expunction process will soon be eased with the additional resources and personnel.

If you have a criminal record that you wish to have expunged or need additional information about expunctions, contact Xpunctions.com by phone, email or the Contact Form on this website.

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