Category Archives: Personal Injury

Having Your Criminal Record Expunged In Raleigh.

A long-ago arrest and charge may be preventing you from getting employment, from obtaining housing (or evicted from public housing), and even student aid. Although most employers may go back seven years, there is no law prohibiting anyone from doing a complete criminal background check going back many more years.

Many people believe that after a certain point, a dismissal or a charge that didn’t lead to a conviction will simply “fall off” your record. This may be true of items on a credit record, but a criminal record is an entirely different matter. Unless you specifically petition the court to have something expuncted (also called “expunged”), that charge, arrest, or minor conviction will stay on your record forever.

It is possible to have a previous North Carolina criminal record expuncted. If you are successful, you can answer the question of a criminal record with a confident “no.”

What Is Expunction?

Having Your Criminal Record Expunged In Raleigh.It’s the process by which you request that the court eradicate a past charge, arrest, and in some cases, convictions. The request is made to a judge in the court where the arrest occurred, who reviews your records and makes the determination. If approved, the criminal record is destroyed by court order.

Note that this isn’t the same thing as a pardon, which is an order signed by the governor. An expunction is signed by a judge.

The UNC School of Government has a web-based tool called C-CAT that offers information on criminal convictions, and an additional site that includes information on expunction. They are for information only and do not offer legal advice.

What Charges Can Be Eliminated

Not all charges can be expuncted, and there are waiting periods for some convictions. Generally, you can request an expunction for:

  • A first-time conviction of a nonviolent offense
  • A first-time conviction of certain offenses committed before age 18/22
  • A charge that was dismissed or ruled as not guilty

It’s estimated that around 25% of North Carolina residents have some kind of criminal record, and many are eligible to take advantage of expunction. Even though the strict criteria limits the number of eligible cases, very few eligible people actually avail themselves to the expanded opportunities for expunction. It’s worth it to discuss the possibility with a Raleigh criminal defense attorney who understands the rules and laws around expunction.

Under North Carolina state law, (§15A-145.5(a)(8a)). DWI convictions are specifically excluded from expunction (as well as felony convictions that include violence.) DWI convictions can no longer be expuncted, no matter how old they are. Violent crimes as well as other more serious crimes are also ineligible for expunction.

The complete statute for North Carolina §15A-145 regarding expunction is available here.

Reduced Waiting Periods

The recent changes in the law mean that:

  • For a nonviolent misdemeanor, the waiting period is now five years
  • For a nonviolent felony, the waiting period is now ten years
  • Dismissals can be expuncted immediately since there is no time or number limit on them. Any number of dismissals can be expuncted. However, the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation is currently experiencing a backlog of cases since the law was passed.
  • These dismissals can be expuncted as long as the individual has not been convicted of a felony.

Some types of charges have filing fees involved, so check with the clerk of court prior to filing.

While it may be possible to request to have a criminal record expunged on your own, consult with an attorney who understands the process and can discuss your case and your chances of a successful outcome.

Ready To Let Go Of A Previous Charge?

Don’t let a previous arrest, charge or conviction stop you from living your life. Find out if you are eligible for expunction so you can finally be free of the past.

Dewey P. Brinkley has defended thousands of clients against various criminal charges and helped many with the expunction of a long-ago minor criminal record.  Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 (or use our online contact form) for a free consultation. You can also email us at dewey@deweybrinkleylaw.com.

What’s The Difference Between Trespassing And Criminal Trespassing In Raleigh, NC?

 

Being charged with trespassing is, to any degree, a criminal charge in North Carolina. But you may not realize that there are two forms of trespassing. It’s essential to know the difference, and what you may be facing if you’re charged with one or both of them.

Trespassing Defined

On a basic level, trespassing is the act of intentionally going onto someone’s land without permission. You shouldn’t be there, you may see the posted signs, or someone has asked you to leave. While you may accidentally and unintentionally walk onto someone’s property at some point, bypassing signs that say “no trespassing” and going where you’ve been asked not to demonstrates intent, which makes the difference.

North Carolina has more than one type of trespass, which includes criminal trespassing. Here we discuss the differences.

First Degree Trespass (Criminal Trespass)

This Class 2 misdemeanor means that the state will be required to prove that a person not only entered the property but remained there and that the building or property was enclosed or secured that made it evident that the owner intended to keep people out of place. The penalties for this degree of trespassing is a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

What's the difference between trespassing and criminal trespassing in Raleigh, NC.?

The penalties increase to 150 days in jail along with a fine to be decided by a judge if:

  • The facility is owned by a utility, such as a:
    • Public waterworks
    • Natural gas entity
    • Electric power supplier
  • The individual breached a fence, wall, or other barriers to access the facility.

A trespasser can be imprisoned for up to 39 months if:

  • The individual accessed the facility intending to disrupt the facility’s operations.
  • The act of trespassing places the individual and/or others at risk for serious bodily injuries.

The act of trespassing then becomes a Class H felony.

Second Degree Trespass

This is a lesser charge of trespassing, such as being notified by an owner or authorized person (i.e., store manager) to leave or not enter the property or stays on the premises despite the posted signs warning intruders or others to stay out of the property. Although still a criminal trespass, a conviction for second-degree trespass is punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor, accompanied by a $200 fine and 20 days in jail.

Domestic Criminal Trespass

As the name indicates, this type of criminal trespass involves one party accessing or entering the property of a former spouse or domestic partner where he or she is no longer welcome and refuses to leave the property.

A person cannot just claim domestic criminal trespass; he or she will be required to prove it according to the state statute (N.C.G.S. §14-134.3), by:

  • Showing that both parties have separate residences
  • A court order requiring the party to stay away from the premises
  • An agreement between the two parties to live separately
  • An order of legal separation

Conviction of domestic criminal trespass is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor and a fine at the judge’s discretion.

However, if the property in question is a “safe house or haven for victims of domestic violence and the person is armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the offense,” an individual will be charged with a Class G felony. A conviction for a Class G felony entails a maximum jail time of 47 months.

Don’t Ignore A Trespassing Charge

Even as a misdemeanor, a conviction of any type of trespassing can have long-ranging consequences that impact your life, including a criminal record.

If you’ve been charged with trespassing, call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.