Breaking News
More () »

North Carolina's 'Second Chance Act' aims to expunge records of non-violent offenses for certain offenders

Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neil is expunging the records of those who have committed non-violent offenses before the age of 18.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Forsyth County District Attorney discussed a new state law called the Second Chance Act. 

The law expunges non-violent offenses that happened before offenders turned 18. In 2019, the state passed a law preventing teens ages 16-17 who commit crimes in North Carolina from automatically being charged in the adult criminal justice system.

WFMY News 2 learned how this new law impacts anyone found guilty of a non-violent crime before the year 2019. If you committed a non-violent offense before the age of 18 in Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neil has some good news to share with you.

"To get an expungement most people are going to need a lawyer, and that's costly, and it's complicated. You can't do it by yourself, however, the DA has the ability and the knowledge to work that out and figure things out for folks. So that's exactly what we've done here today," O'Neil said. 

The Second Chance Act is a statewide bill, however, the Forsyth County DA's Office is the first office to get the process started for its constituents. Over 30,000 people from 1975 to 2019 will have their non-violent offenses wiped from their record if they were under the age of 18 when it occurred. These offenses could affect the chances of people getting better jobs or housing, for example.

"An early Christmas present for a lot of people in this community, and give them an opportunity when they apply for a job, they don't have to list something from when they were 16 or 17 year old. They can go out and get a fresh start, and really embrace what the term second chance means," he said. 

As of now, there is no clear timetable for when people can expect their records to be cleared, but O'Neil clarified in Forsyth County there is no application process.

If you live in any other Triad counties reach out to your local DA's office to get the process started.

Before You Leave, Check This Out