Being accused of a crime generates concerns, as many crimes carry with them serious penalties. But what can be of greater dismay is the ability of allegations or a conviction to tarnish your reputation. You have worked hard to become a notable member of your community and trusted employee at your place of work; however, a criminal charge has caused all that hard work to wither away. A criminal record has the ability to destroy you personal and professional reputation. Thus, it is important to not only consider your rights when facing criminal charges but also what can be done to clear your record after a conviction.

According to recent report, a new bill considered in the state of North Carolina could help some individuals clear their criminal records. Known as the “Second Chance Act,” this legislation would allow certain individuals to have their criminal records cleared of lower-level criminal convictions and dismissed charges.

Currently, the bill cleared the House, was approved by the Senate and is now on the desk of the Governor. If passed, the bill will build up current expunction laws. This means that non-violent, low-grad felonies and misdemeanors committed by those that were ages 16 and 17 at the time would be removed from their record. These counts would be considered juvenile, thereby making it no longer part of one’s public record.

The major benefit of this bill is the fact that it will eliminate obstacles faced during background checks for employment, housing and other needs by those that committed crimes due to youthful indiscretions. While this bill could change the lives of many, it should be noted that prosecutors will still have access to these erased records for sentencing recommendations if future crimes are committed

As a young adult, the mistakes made in your youth should not prevent you from reaching your career goals or being a trusted member of your community. Understanding the criminal defense process and what rights you are afforded is one way to reduce or avoid criminal penalties.