By Jason Schaumburg

(The Center Square) – Gov. Roy Cooper has signed into law legislation that addresses criminal records expungement in North Carolina.

The Second Chance Act allows certain felonies and misdemeanors committed before Dec. 1, 2019, to be expunged from a juvenile’s record. It also eliminates barriers that limit certain nonviolent crimes to be removed from an adult’s record.

“We can give people who make amends for past mistakes the opportunity to clear their records,” Cooper said June 25 in a statement announcing he signed the legislation. “This bill offers that opportunity and a path to good jobs and a brighter future.”

Starting Dec. 1, people with criminal records can seek the expungement of more than one misdemeanor conviction after seven years instead of waiting five years for each misdemeanor, or 10 years for one felony.

The new law also removes a record of an offense, once the case is dismissed (except for a plea deal), or the person is found not guilty, starting Dec. 1, 2021. It does not apply to violent or sexual crimes or those involving impaired driving.

The measure received bipartisan support in the General Assembly.

The bill originally passed the Senate in May 2019, but it stalled in the House before it was approved, 119-0, on June 10. The Senate concurred with the House version, 47-0, on June 16.

Sen. Danny Britt Jr., R-Columbus, said the bill removes obstacles for North Carolinians who struggle to find employment because of their past.

This is one of the biggest jobs acts that we are going to pass this year,” said Britt, who sponsored the bill. “This is going to help tens of thousands of citizens, every single year, just in the automatic expungement piece alone.”

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