Governor McCrory Signs Identity Protection Bill
S.B. 233 first to address mistaken identity
Raleigh, N.C. — Governor Pat McCrory signed S.B. 233 into law today. The law will provide for the automatic expunction of certain records of a person when the charge or charges against the person are dismissed as a result of identity theft or mistaken identity. Although similar legislation has been passed and introduced in other states, North Carolina is the first state to sign the legislation into law.
"I am so proud of North Carolina for stepping up and passing legislation to confront this problem," Governor McCrory said. "I hope other governors across the nation will follow our lead to defend the rights of those wrongfully charged with committing a crime."
S.B. 233 was inspired by Durham native Charles Belk who in August 2014 was mistakenly identified as a suspect in a bank robbery in Beverly Hills, Ca. He was handcuffed, detained, taken to the policy station, booked, denied a phone call, denied being told his charges, denied immediate access to an attorney, jailed for six hours for Armed Bank Robbery and Accessory to Armed Robbery and held under a $100,000 bail.
Although he was released later that night and given a Detention Certificate which indicated he was detained and not arrested, an arrest record appeared on the Sheriff's website and a state legal process had to be followed to get the arrest record sealed and destroyed.
Under current law, North Carolina will expunge certain offenses from a person's criminal record in cases of identity theft. S.B. 233 goes a step further and includes "mistaken identity" as well. This applies when a mistake has been made in identifying who committed the crime, or when a witness or law enforcement officer has been given misinformation on the person who committed the crime.
In cases of identity theft or mistaken identity, if the conviction is set aside or the person is found not guilty, there is an automatic process for expunction of all court records, law enforcement records, DMV, and adult corrections records.
The law goes into effect December 1, 2015.
The bill was sponsored by Senators Floyd McKissick, Stan Bingham and Warren Daniel.