Effective December 1, 2018

The “Certificate of Relief” Bill

North Carolina passed a bill to help job seekers who have criminal convictions. House Bill 774 (HB 774) expands the scenarios under which individuals may apply for a “Certificate of Relief.” Employers are encouraged to hire individuals who earn this certificate.

Former offenders may be eligible to receive a certificate if they:

  • Have no more than three Class H or I felonies.
  • Completed their sentence at least twelve months prior to applying for the certificate.
  • Complied with every requirement of their sentence, such as probation, educational requirements or anger management classes.
  • Are actively engaged (or seeking to be) in training, education or a rehabilitation program.
  • Have no pending charges.
  • Do not pose an unreasonable risk to the safety of the public or an individual.

The bill also creates protections for employers:

  • Businesses that hire individuals because they were granted a certificate will not be liable for claims of negligent hiring.
  • If a person is hired based on the merit of this certificate and later incurs a new conviction, then they must inform their employer within ten days.

HB 774 was signed by Governor Roy Cooper and goes into effect on December 1, 2018.

Effective December 1, 2017

New Rules For Expunging Criminal Records

Governor Roy Cooper signed North Carolina Senate Bill 445 (SB 445), which creates an expedited and standardized process for first-time, non-violent offenders to expunge certain types of arrest and criminal records. The bill reduces the amount of time that residents must wait to start the expungement process from 15 years to 10 years for a first-time, non-violent felony and 5 years for a non-violent misdemeanor.


This law went into effect on December 1, 2017. Therefore, more North Carolina residents may soon be eligible to have certain records expunged. Arrest and criminal records that have been expunged cannot be considered by employers and should not be included on background checks.

The goal of SB 445 is to give non-violent offenders a second chance. Governor Roy Cooper said this about the bill: "We want North Carolinians who have corrected their mistakes to go on to live purposeful, productive lives."

The Bill Updates Existing Laws About The Expunction Of Records

SB 445 creates allowances for first-time offenders when the person was:
  • Under 18 when convicted of a misdemeanor.
  • Under 18 when convicted of gang-related offense that was either a Class H felony or an enhanced offense under G.S. 14-50.22.
  • Under 18 when convicted of a non-violent felony.
  • Under 21 when convicted of a misdemeanor for alcohol possession.
  • Under 21 when convicted of certain drug offenses.
  • Under 21 when convicted of certain toxic vapor offenses.
  • Convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors or felonies (regardless of age).
  • Convicted of certain acts of prostitution for an offense that occurred prior to October 1, 2013.
  • Found not guilty of a misdemeanor or felony charge.
  • Charged, but later had those charges dismissed or pardoned.
  • Charged, but later found not guilty due to identity theft or mistaken identity.

Backgrounds Online provides details about State Laws for informational purposes only. We do not provide legal services. Nothing on these pages or our site should be considered as legal advice or opinion.