NC’s New Expunction Law Offers Juvenile Offenders a Fresh Start

By Tarrah Callahan and Daniel Bowes


When prosecutors, defense attorneys, people with criminal records and advocates from the right and left agree on a criminal justice policy reform, one can have a fairly strong degree of confidence in the measure. Last year, Session Law 2017-195: Expungement Process Modifications enjoyed such widespread and bipartisan support as it moved through the General Assembly and was quickly signed into law by Gov. Cooper.

Session Law 2017-195: Expungement Process Modifications enjoyed broad bipartisan support as advocates across the political spectrum recognize that once a person has paid their debt to society, saddling an individual with a criminal record that triggers a wide range of collateral consequence is antithetical to a system that purports to support opportunity and individual responsibility.


Expungements have been exceedingly rare in North Carolina, in part because of narrow eligibility and in part because of the complicated process that bars the average person from applying for an expunction without representation by counsel. The modifications made by S445 represent an important and necessary step for our state as North Carolina’s waiting periods and limitations on expunctions were well out of step with other states.

Read more