Raleigh, N.C. – Right On Crime, and Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, both national criminal justice organizations, support North Carolina’s S565 without PCS (Proposed Committee Substitute). This bill, as originally drafted, would have removed barriers to jobs and housing by restarting the automated expunction of not guilty and dismissed charges and implementing recommendations of a bipartisan, 16-member task force.

Last week, the North Carolina House Judiciary II Committee voted to adopt the Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) of S565. This PCS repeals the automatic record sealing of not guilty and dismissed charges, including the backlog of more than a million eligible cases. 

In 2020, S.L. 2020-35 was signed into law after bipartisan support in both chambers of the NC General Assembly, providing automated expunction of dismissed and not guilty charges beginning December 1, 2021.

Due to logistical challenges, the legislation was paused. A 16-member task force was created with representatives from AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts), the Conference of District Attorneys, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Sheriffs’ Association, and DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), and offered recommendations including:

  • Lengthening processing of automatic expunctions to 6 months
  • Granting District Attorneys and Clerks of Court access to expunged records
  • Restarting automatic expunctions of not guilty and dismissed charges effective December 1, 2024 (currently July 1, 2024)

North Carolina legislators created S565 – Removing Barriers to Jobs and Housing,intended to allow for the restart of the automated expunction of not guilty and dismissed charges. The original legislation would implement the task force recommendations, as well. To be clear, the original language in S565 did not clear a person’s record. It simply removes the barriers of individuals found not guilty or who had charges dismissed to reenter the workforce without the stigma surrounding a criminal record. The original bill ensured that dismissed felony charges due to a plea agreement were not expunged.

“Any North Carolinian who leaves a courtroom with absolution from a judge or jury should not carry the burden of a criminal record for a lifetime,” says Maggie Horzempa, Right On Crime Director of North Carolina. “An estimated one million of these criminal records are activeas citizens apply for jobs or attempt to pass credit checks for housing. S565 is a sound and conservative approach to fortifying North ‘Carolina’s economy.”

“When the Second Chance Act passed, it was touted as a job bill to help North Carolinians get back to work, and the automated record clearance for dismissed/not guilty charges was a critical component,” says Tarrah Callahan, Founder and Executive Director of Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform. “While the charges addressed in S565 of dismissed/not guilty charges are eligible to be expunged by petition, the process is often very costly and time-consuming, sometimes taking years to conclude. Removing these records from public view allows hundreds of thousands of people to access this relief.”

Right On Crime is a national criminal justice campaign offering conservative and data-driven solutions for reducing crime, restoring victims, reforming offenders, and lowering taxpayer costs.

Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform is a national and conservative-led criminal justice organization focused on pragmatic criminal justice solutions.