Dorothy Woods turned her life around following a conviction on drug trafficking in 1997 — a conviction the Charlotte, NC mother of three says was the result of “a bad decision” she deeply regrets. However, in spite of having gotten a job as a nursing assistant and owning a home, her record from that one incident followed her around for 15 years.
Because Ms. Woods was listed as a convicted felon, she was turned down for a number of jobs. She was also refused certain kinds of housing assistance, forcing her to spend more of her limited funds to purchase a home for her three children. Now, thanks to a new law passed by the state legislature, Woods can finally look forward to a future free of her past. The law went into effect at the beginning of December and made it possible to expunge records of certain convicted felons who had not been charged since their initial crimes.
Of course, it is not just those who have been convicted of a crime who need to be concerned about criminal records. Even if you have merely been arrested but ultimately cleared of all charges that record can stick with you, causing problems in getting credit and finding jobs. Here in North Carolina, it is possible to have arrest records for most charges expunged by filing an appropriate request with the state. Your attorney can usually help you to file the appropriate paperwork.
Having a record sealed as opposed to expunged is much rarer. Effectively, the two are virtually the same. A sealed record remains on file but may not be seen by the general public. By comparison, when your record is expunged, that means that the record has been removed entirely, as if it never existed.
If you have been arrested for a crime, a good criminal defense attorney can be your best friend. Your attorney can help you to fight the charges against you and can also help you get your record expunged once you have been cleared of the crime.