Relief from a Criminal Conviction (2023 Edition)

Charges Resulting from Identity Theft or Mistaken Identity

G.S. 15A-147 allows expunction of dismissals and findings of not guilty if the underlying charge against the person was the result of identity theft (see Table 8). The statute also authorizes an expunction when a conviction resulting from identity theft is set aside.

The statute also authorizes an expunction in cases of mistaken identity. G.S. 15A-147(g) defines “mistaken identity” as the erroneous arrest of a person for a crime as a result of some mistake on the part of a witness or law-enforcement officer about the identity of the person who committed the crime.

G.S. 15A-147(a) directs the defendant to petition for an expunction in cases in which he or she is found not guilty or a conviction is set aside as a result of identity theft or mistaken identity. G.S. 15A-147(a1) requires expunction in identity theft and mistaken identity cases, without a petition by the defendant, if the court or prosecutor dismisses the charge. 

The situation is more complicated when the charged person is the person alleged to have committed the crime but he or she falsely uses another person’s name. If the charges name the wrong person, the State can dismiss the charges, which can then be expunged by the wrongly-named person under G.S. 15A-147, and recharge the defendant under the correct name. Alternatively, the State may be able to amend the charges and other records in the case to allege the defendant’s true name. See generally Jeff Welty, What to Do When a Defendant Is Charged under the Wrong Name, N.C. Crim. L., UNC Sch. of Gov’t Blog (Jan. 5, 2010). If the defendant who actually committed the crime is convicted under another person’s name, the State may be reluctant to set aside the conviction and instead may prefer to amend the records to reflect the defendant’s true name. If any records remain implicating the wrongly-named person in the crime, the court may be able to order expunction of the information under the authority of the G.S. 15A-147.


Table 8. Charges Resulting from Identity Theft or Mistaken Identity

Matters Subject to Expunction

Principal Restrictions on Expunction

Applicable Statutes and Forms

  • Finding of not guilty, dismissal, or setting aside of conviction of infraction, misdemeanor, or felony resulting from another person’s use of identifying information of named person without that person’s permission and, effective for charges filed on or after Dec. 1, 2015, resulting from mistaken identity
  • None
  • G.S. 15A-147
  • AOC-CR-263 (Jan. 2023) (petition and order when defendant is found not guilty or conviction is set aside), AOC-CR-283 (Jan. 2023) (order after dismissal by court or state)
  • AOC-CR-307B (Mar. 2021) (dismissal notice, with identity theft and mistaken identity as reason), AOC-CR-339 (Feb. 2021) (dismissal notice for impaired driving offenses)