‘Second Chance Act’ in NC aims to help clear some criminal records

State News
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RALEIGH, NC (WBTW/WNCN) – North Carolina lawmakers are pushing for a bill that could clear some criminal records.

Immigration attorney Lynn Burke works in Raleigh. She’s only licensed in Washington D.C., which allows her to practice immigration law.

That’s because a nonviolent felony is on her record from 20 years ago when she was in her 20s.

“I stole food and clothing so I could try to keep my children from being sent to foster care,” Burke said.

Burke can’t get licensed in North Carolina because of her conviction, but the “Second Chance Act” would change that.

“I won’t have to talk about it anymore,” she said. “I won’t have to pretend that I’m like everybody else.”

The bill would automatically remove charges against people who are found not guilty or had those charges dismissed.

“There’s gonna be so many people that are gonna be able to have hope that their lives are gonna change,” said Burke.

It would also allow people convicted of non-violent misdemeanors and felonies to petition to have those convictions expunged after several years of good behavior.

A similar law in South Carolina went into effect at the beginning of last year. It also expanded what crimes could be expunged from a record.

Republican Speaker of the House Tim Moore calls the bill important criminal justice reform.

“You may have been charged with a crime that you didn’t do and been found not guilty,” said Rep. Moore. “If an employer or someone sees that there, it may work against you.”

“All of us will understand what this is like and be able to know that one day things will be better,” Burke said. “You have to have hope to get up everyday.”

The Second Chance Act passed unanimously in North Carolina’s senate last year and the house could vote on it as soon as Wednesday.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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