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How do I appeal a misdemeanor child abuse plea in NC? Is it possible to have the charge expunged or pardoned?

Windsor, NC |

In 2007 I was charged with 2 counts of child abuse and possession of marijuana. I did not have an attorney in district court and the judge was rather harsh with the sentencing. He chose to try the charges separately. I appealed to superior court and was appointed a court appointed lawyer. Ignorant to the seriousness of the charge, and mentally exhausted by the legal battle, I accepted a plea to 1 count of child abuse. I was sentenced to 1 year of probation. DSS was never involved, no parenting classes were ordered. Since my conviction I was fired from my job, and have been unable to find employment due to my criminal record.

Attorney Answers 2


You need a North Carolina attorney. I am not licensed in North Carolina and there are very specific rules that vary from state to state concerning when and how you can appeal from a guilty plea, whether you are allowed to seek an expungement, and what you must do to seek a pardon.

An expungement of a child abuse conviction is probably impossible unless you were under 18 at the time, it was a first offense, and you have had no subsequent convictions. Pardons are very rare and take a very long time. Guilty pleas can only be appealed on a few, very narrow grounds -- basically lack of jurisdiction, lack of voluntariness, ineffective assistance of counsel, or illegal sentence.

There are certain procedural requirements that must be met for a guilty plea to be valid, but it boils down to the court making sure you understood the nature of the charge and that you were knowingly and voluntarily entering into the plea. If it's not too late to file an appeal (your post doesn't say how old the conviction is), a lawyer may be able to review the record of the plea and find a procedural error that will allow you to ask to have the plea set aside.

The odds are against you, but you need to consult with a North Carolina attorney to see if (a) you are still allowed to challenge this appeal, and (b) if there are any grounds for doing so.

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If you were under 18 when it happened, you would be able to expunge the conviction. Otherwise the answer is no.

You should retain an experienced attorney to review all the facts in your case in order to receive advice specific to your case because Mr. Heroy is unaware of the specifics of your situation. Mr. Heroy's statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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