What is the Second Chance Act?

The Second Chance Act is a proposed law that changes and expands expungements in North Carolina. It is also known as Senate Bill 562 and recently passed the North Carolina Senate.

NC Second Chance Act

What does the Second Chance Act do?

The Second Chance Act provides that charges which result in a not guilty verdict or dismissal without leave will automatically get expunged by operation of law. The bill does not address the method for the process for the automatic expungements. However, it does allow for prosecutors to submit expungement requests on their own.

The proposed bill also expands the scope of expungements. Under the current law, only one non-violent, non-DWI misdemeanor conviction can be expunged if all of the following criteria are met.

  • at least five years have passed from the date of conviction
  • the person is otherwise eligible,
  • and has not been convicted of a felony

The Second Chance Act will allow for more than one non-violent misdemeanor conviction to be expunged after 7 years and certain other eligibility criteria are met even if the Petitioner has another misdemeanor or felony conviction.

The Second Chance Act also expands the list of offenses that are eligible for expungements for convictions that occurred when a Defendant was under 18 years old but at least 16 years old.

When is the effective date?

The portion of the Second Chance Act granting automatic expungements for charges resulting in Not Guilty Verdict or Dismissal Without Leave dispositions, becomes effective only for cases disposed on or after December 1, 2021. The other portions of this section of the Act allowing for expungement of charges resulting in Not Guilty Verdict or Dismissal Without Leave dispositions even if a petitioner has a felony conviction become effective December 1, 2020. Before this change, a felony conviction can prevent a charge resulting in dismissal or not guilty from being expunged.

The portion of the bill that expands how many expungements can be obtained for multiple non-violent misdemeanors after a 7-year waiting period becomes effective to petitions filed on or after December 1, 2020.

Is the Second Chance Act Retroactive?

Unfortunately, the Second Chance Act is not retroactive. Any dismissals or not guilty verdicts that are resolved before December 1, 2021, will not automatically be expunged by operation of law. This means the current expungement Petition and Hearing process must still be followed to have these charges removed from a person’s record until December 1, 2021. Further, the Second Chance Act states that a person granted a prior expungement for a non-violent misdemeanor conviction cannot receive another expungement under the provisions of the Act for a subsequent misdemeanor conviction.

Contact an Expungement Attorney in NC Today!

The Second Chance Act has yet to be enacted but it passed unanimously in the Senate and is expected to soon be signed into law. Contact an attorney at Dummit Fradin to discuss how this bill may open new opportunities to clean up your criminal record.