What is a “nonviolent misdemeanor” or “nonviolent felony”?
Under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5, you may be eligible for the expunction of a prior conviction. However, this law specifies that the prior conviction must be a “nonviolent misdemeanor” or a “nonviolent felony.” Determining whether a prior conviction is “nonviolent” or not may seem obvious at first, but a further exploration of the statute shows that the determination may require a closer look. Below is a selective list of a few convictions that do not meet the definitions of “nonviolent misdemeanor” or “nonviolent felony” and as such are not subject to expunction.
The easiest cases to identify as violent are those that include “assault” as an essential element. If a prior conviction was one that included assault as part of the definition of the crime, then that conviction would not be subject to expunction under this statute. This barrier may come as a surprise to those who have been convicted of a low-level misdemeanor such as Simple Assault.
Certain Felony Drug Convictions
Many people are understandably shocked to find out that some drug convictions are considered a “violent felony” even if there was no actual violence involved.
Any felony offense that involves methamphetamines or heroin is defined as a “violent felony.” Further, any felony offense that involves possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine is also defined as a “violent felony.”
This means that those convicted of simply possessing heroin or methamphetamines would not be eligible for expunction relief, nor would those who have been convicted of selling or delivering cocaine. This definition does not include marijuana, meaning that a person who was convicted of selling marijuana may still be eligible for expunction relief after the statutory wait period.
Higher Level Convictions
Certain higher-level convictions are not eligible for expunction relief. Higher level convictions include all class A through G felonies, but do not include Class H and I felonies. Therefore, most low-level felonies (Class H and I) can be expunged. It is worth noting, however, that a felony breaking and entering conviction can not be expunged.
Higher-level convictions do not necessarily have to be felonies. Class A1 misdemeanor convictions are also unable to be expunged. This would include convictions such as a Domestic Violence Protective Order Violation or misdemeanor Child Abuse.
Driving While Impaired
Another surprise in this list is a conviction of Driving While Impaired. Any conviction involving impaired driving is expressly excluded from the list of “nonviolent misdemeanors” and as such can not be expunged.
As you can see just from the short list above, defining a “nonviolent misdemeanor” or a “nonviolent felony” is harder than it sounds and may surprise you! Call the Criminal Defense Team at Hatch, Little & Bunn today to explore your expunction options and see if your conviction qualifies for expunction relief so that you can finally put that conviction behind you.