If you have received a criminal charge, you may be willing to do anything possible to remove it from your record. Good news — in some cases, you can.
Expungement is the process of erasing the record of a criminal charge or arrest. This process can be helpful for individuals with a past criminal record seeking employment, housing, and other opportunities requiring a background check.
Read on to learn more about the Texas expungement process. Then contact our expungement lawyer team to understand whether you are eligible for record erasure.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement, also known as expunction, erases an arrest or criminal charge from a person's criminal records. In Texas, a person who was either found not guilty or had their criminal case dismissed can apply to have all of the records relating to an arrest destroyed. When an expunction is granted, the state agencies and law enforcement offices are ordered to destroy all the records tied to the arrest. After this process, the individual is not legally required to disclose the record in most cases.
Many expunctions remove arrests that never led to convictions. For example, if a person was a suspect in a crime, a police officer may have arrested them, then released them after finding further evidence. Because the person never actually committed the crime, the arrest shouldn't need to impact their future opportunities.
What Records Are Eligible for Expungement?
Not every criminal record is eligible for expungement. In Texas, the court will consider the following types of records for expungement:
- Dismissed criminal charges
- Records in the wrong name
- Charges that led to an acquittal or not-guilty verdict
- Arrests that did not lead to convictions
Convictions are not eligible for expunction in Texas.
Expungement vs. Record Sealing
Some people use the terms expungement and record sealing interchangeably, but these processes are distinct in Texas.
Record sealing is the process of hiding certain criminal offenses from the public. However, while the public would be unable to access the record, government entities and licensing agencies can still obtain it during background checks.
Meanwhile, expungement erases the crime from the record in most cases. The person can state that the event never happened, and the event will not appear on background checks. However, if the person commits crimes in the future, the prosecutor may still be able to use the record against them.
Factors Affecting Eligibility for Expungement
Several factors can affect your eligibility for expungement:
The Outcome of the Case
The case's outcome is the most critical factor affecting eligibility for expunction.
If the criminal charge led to a conviction, the defendant probably would not be eligible for expunction. However, if the prosecutor dropped or dismissed the charges or an arrest never led to a charge, the court may be willing to delete the event from the record.
The court is often more willing to erase events from juvenile criminal records than adult records. The court recognizes that kids can make dumb mistakes, but those mistakes do not need to follow them for the rest of their lives. If you received a criminal charge as a juvenile, you might have a good chance of expungement.
Additionally, the amount of time that has passed since the arrest or charge can also impact your eligibility for expungement. For example, the court may be willing to erase the charge if you received it ten years ago and have had a clean slate since then.
Type of Charge
The type of criminal charge you received can affect the court's likelihood of erasing it. For example, the court may be more willing to expunge a minor misdemeanor charge than a major criminal charge.
What Is the Expungement Process in Texas?
Understanding the process can improve your outcomes if you are seeking expungement of a criminal record in Texas. Here is the expungement process in Texas:
- Hire an expungement lawyer: Hiring a qualified “expungement attorney near me” can improve your case outcomes. An expungements lawyer can help you navigate the expungement process and ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements and timeline.
- Determine your eligibility: If you are not eligible for expungement, filing a petition too soon could hurt your chances for expungement in the future. Your attorney can help you determine your eligibility for expungement.
- File paperwork with the court: If you and your attorney believe you are eligible, you can file the petition for an order of expunction with your local court.
- Attend a hearing: The court will set a hearing date for your expungement approximately one month after filing. You and your attorney will attend this hearing and present evidence to support your expunction.
- Receive a decision: Ideally, the judge will grant your expungement, which will go into effect within six months of the hearing.
Call the Expungement Lawyer Team at Jason English Law, PLLC.
For the assistance of a knowledgeable expungement lawyer near Austin, TX, consult the experienced team at Jason English Law, PLLC. With over 15 years as a prosecutor from 2002 to 2017, Attorney Jason English knows what to expect from the expungement process. At Jason English Law, PLLC., we focus on expungement, criminal defense for DUI/DWI, assault, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and more.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient's state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.