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Legislation Passed by House Committee Threatens Automatic Expunction of North Carolina Criminal Records

Legislation endorsed by a House committee on Wednesday could dismantle an initiative launched four years ago aimed at automatically expunging a broader range of North Carolina criminal court records.

According to WCCB, the bipartisan 2020 law included provisions mandating state authorities to devise a system for automatically removing from individuals’ records criminal charges that were dismissed or resulted in “not guilty” verdicts or “not responsible” findings, without requiring formal requests.

These adjustments were part of a larger “second chance” movement both in North Carolina and nationwide, which has facilitated individuals with certain criminal convictions to petition for record expungement, aiding them in overcoming barriers to employment or housing.

The automatic expunction component of the law was initiated in late 2021, leading to over half a million record deletions within just eight months. This surge posed a significant operational challenge for the court system, especially when compared to the original petition-based process.