Texas recognizes that people make mistakes. Although criminal penalties exist to deter people from harming others or threatening society in some way, the criminal justice system offers opportunities to some individuals, allowing them to move forward without the shadow of their mistakes interfering with their futures. Once the court grants your expunction request, you will be released from any obligation to disclose the arrest. Essentially, an expunction enables you to move forward, as if the incident never occurred. It’s essential to understand the criteria for qualifying for expunction. Working with an experienced Pearland criminal defense lawyer is the best way to identify the most strategic path forward to ensure your future remains as bright as possible.
Understanding the Expungement Process in Texas
Texas allows certain criminal incidents, such as arrests or charges to be removed from an individual’s record. According to the State Bar of Texas, “While most convictions cannot be removed from a person’s record, Texas law does allow individuals to remove information about an arrest, charge, or conviction from their permanent records in certain circumstances. This is called an expunction.” First, the individual must review Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to understand the eligibility requirements. Enlisting the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer is highly recommended, as they can help you determine whether you qualify for an expungement request. If you fulfill the requirements, you can file a Petition for Expunction requesting the court to grant an Order for Expunction. The court will then schedule a hearing allowing any respondents to contest the expunction. Should the court grant the expunction, you will need to present an Order for Expunction to the court for the judge to sign. Once signed, the order must be submitted to any agencies that may have records or files relating to the expunged offense.
Records Eligible for Expunction Under Texas Law
There are specific circumstances in which a record may qualify for expunction. In general, records that may be eligible for expunction in Texas include:
- An arrest for a crime that was never charged
- A criminal charge that was eventually dismissed
- Qualifying misdemeanor juvenile offenses
- Conviction of a minor for certain alcohol offenses
- Conviction for Failure to Attend School
- An arrest of a person that is not charged if a case is not filed and no felony offense arises out of the same incident for which the person was arrested
- An arrest of a person that is never formally charged, regardless of whether the statute of limitations has expired (provided the prosecuting attorney’s office certifies that the records and files are not needed for use in any criminal investigation or prosecution of someone else)
- An arrest, charge, or conviction on a person’s record resulting from identity theft by someone else who was later arrested, charged, or convicted of the crime
- A conviction for a crime that the trial court or the Court of Criminal Appeals later acquitted
- A conviction for a crime that was eventually pardoned by the Texas governor or the U.S. President
It’s important to understand that not everyone with records eligible for expunction for the reasons listed above qualifies for expunction. Working with a trusted and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer is the best way to assess the specifics of your case and determine the most appropriate course of action.
When Expungement Is Not Possible
It can be disheartening to learn that you do not meet the eligibility requirements for seeking an expungement. However, it may be possible to obtain an Order for Nondisclosure. Although a nondisclosure order does not destroy or remove the offense from the record, it will limit the accessibility of the records. For example, a nondisclosure order prevents certain private parties from accessing the information. However, government agencies will still be able to access the information, and it will still be admissible in certain court actions. Those who have successfully completed deferred adjudication and received a discharge and dismissal of the deferred adjudication may be able to seek a nondisclosure order. Discuss your options with a trusted criminal defense attorney today.
Keeping Your Future Bright
If you are haunted by your past mistakes, you may struggle to find employment or stable housing. It’s worth reaching out to a knowledgeable and caring criminal defense lawyer to discuss your situation. Your attorney can assess your case to determine whether you qualify for expunction or a nondisclosure order. Together, you can take the necessary steps to keep your future as bright as possible.
If you have questions about seeking an expunction in Pearland or Brazoria County, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, today at (832) 230-0075 to arrange a free consultation with an experienced and trusted criminal defense attorney.