Your criminal history can follow you for the rest of your life. It can make it challenging to get a job or even spend time with your children. What you may not know is that your criminal history is not limited solely to convictions. It may also show every arrest and interaction that you have had with the police or law enforcement. Even if the police later dropped the charges or the court found you not guilty after trial. The good news is that you may have the right to have your criminal history removed from your record. Texas law describes under what circumstances you can have your criminal arrest history removed and provides an avenue for you to move on from the things that may be holding you back.
Getting your criminal record erased in Fort Worth, Texas or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas can be time-consuming and complex. It involves a petition, court appearances, and convincing a judge. Because of this, it makes sense to hire an experienced Texas expunction attorney to make sure things go right. A Texas expunction attorney can:
- Consult with you regarding your record to help determine your eligibility for expunction
- Prepare your criminal records and documents
- File the petition and other necessary paperwork
- Advocate for you in hopes of convincing the judge to honor your request
The Hampton Law Firm has extensive expertise in helping clients in Fort Worth, Arlington and other local cities in Tarrant County, Texas expunge their criminal records. We have helped clients move on with their lives with confidence. Contact The Hampton Law Firm today by calling (817) 826-9905 or contacting us online to consult with one of our experienced attorneys regarding your expunction case.
As Americans, we believe that you are innocent until proven guilty. Simply being arrested or even charged with a crime does not mean that you were guilty. Unfortunately, the mere record of your arrest can have negative consequences for you down the road. That is why it is important to know what is on your record and take the necessary steps to protect it. If you are eligible, an expunction (also known as expungement) will remove these negative notations from your record. The process allows you to clear your good name and move forward with your life.
There are many reasons to seek and benefits of receiving an expunction. The following is a list of the most common benefits of an expunction.
Having anything on your criminal record can make you feel that there is a smudge attached to your name. This can affect your peace of mind and self-image. Knowing that anyone looking into your background can discover less than flattering things about your past can make you feel like you may have something to hide. We all deserve to feel like we can move on from our past and that it will not define us for the rest of our lives. An expunction will provide you with a clean slate.
If you are applying for a job, you will not want to have anything on your record that will interfere with your prospects. An arrest for a crime that you were later found not guilty of may still show up on your criminal record. An employer deciding between two qualified applicants is more likely to hire the one with a clean criminal history. An expunction can remove that arrest record and eliminate any barrier that could cause you to get passed over for your dream job.
While we would like to believe that being arrested for a crime should not affect whether you can see your child, the reality is that it may get brought up if you are in the middle of a custody battle. Judges who decide custody cases have broad discretion in what they can consider when making their decision on how much time you’ll get to spend with your child. As a result, you will want to have a clean record when applying for custody or adoption.
Lenders look at all kinds of personal information to decide whether to loan you money and at what interest rate. If you have an arrest on your record for a financial crime involving fraud or dishonesty, a lender may use that to deny your loan or to offer you a higher interest rate. To get the most favorable terms and place yourself in the best position for approval of your loan, you will want to have a clean record.
Texas law defines an expunction as a legal way to remove arrest history from your background. Here in Texas, only certain people are eligible for an expunction, and you should consult with an experienced Texas attorney to determine if you qualify. You may be eligible for an expunction in Texas if any of the following apply to you:
- You were arrested and found not guilty at trial;
- You were arrested, found guilty at trial, and later pardoned;
- You were arrested, found guilty at trial, and later found to be innocent by the court;
- You were arrested but did not go to trial within a specific time;
- You were arrested, but the court dismissed the indictment;
- You were arrested, found guilty, but the appellate court overturned your conviction; or
- The prosecutor or district attorney recommends an expunction before trial.
You may only receive an expunction if you never received one before, the state never issued an arrest warrant, and you sign a legal document stating this.
It is essential to understand that generally, you must be arrested before you can receive an expunction. In other words, if you are issued a citation or ticket but never arrested, you may not be able to get an expunction. Also, there are certain types of arrests that do not qualify for expunction. Specifically, an arrest for contempt of court, probation violation, parole violation, or extradition (moving an arrested person to the location where they committed the crime), you cannot receive an expunction.
The word arrest has a technical legal definition, and it is not always easy to determine if you were, in fact, arrested. There are tons of court cases that have attempted to explain what counts as an arrest. For example, having handcuffs placed on your wrists is a sure indication that you are under arrest. The use of handcuffs is considered a custodial arrest. But what if the police simply placed you in the back of a squad car? Are you under arrest if you turn yourself into the authorities voluntarily?
Additionally, suppose you received a ticket or a citation for a criminal offense, but the police did not take you to the station. In that case, there is a question about whether the police placed you under arrest. These situations constitute non-custodial arrests. Texas law now allows for expunction for both custodial and non-custodial arrests. Still, to have a non-custodial arrest removed from your criminal history, you must be formally charged with a crime, and you may have to show that you appeared in court to contest the charges.
Because each situation is different, it is impossible to tell if you were under “arrest” without looking into your specific case’s circumstances. For these reasons, you should seek the advice of a qualified Texas criminal defense lawyer to learn if an expunction is available in your case.
It is possible to receive multiple charges after a single arrest. For example, suppose the Fort Worth police arrested you for assault but discovered illegal drugs in your possession during your arrest. In that scenario, the Tarrant County prosecutor can charge you with separate crimes of possession of a controlled substance and assault. If your arrest involves more than one crime in a single criminal incident, then you cannot receive an expunction unless both crimes meet the requirements for expunction. As a result, if you were arrested for two crimes and found not guilty on only one, no expunction is available. In that example, you would need to have been found not guilty on both crimes to be eligible for expunction.
If you got into trouble with the law when you were a minor (under 18 years old), then you may be wondering how an expunction may apply to your juvenile record. Juveniles are not eligible for expunctions unless the court tries them as adults. Instead of being “arrested,” juveniles are considered “detained” until the court certifies the juvenile as an adult and transfers them to adult court. However, if the court tried you as a juvenile, you could proceed under a different law to have your juvenile records destroyed.
Corporations also fall under special circumstances because they are treated as a legal organization but still sometimes have the same or similar rights as people. Nonetheless, because corporations cannot be “arrested” and taken into custody, they cannot receive expunctions for criminal records.
As stated above, if you are found not guilty at trial, or you get pardoned, then you may be eligible for expunction. You are considered “acquitted” of a crime if you are found not guilty at trial. Under this rule, the court may not grant an expunction until the time for appeal has passed. Once the prosecutor or district attorney’s opportunity to appeal passes, the decision is final, and you may apply for an expunction. Similarly, if the court reverses your conviction on appeal, the time to appeal to the state supreme court must pass before the court can grant an expunction. Additionally, if you are found “not guilty by reason of insanity,” you are generally not eligible for an expunction.
A pardon is a decision by a governor or the President that takes away the punishment for a criminal conviction. Pardons usually must be applied for by the person who is requesting one. In many cases, a pardon is granted for undisclosed reasons. If you have received a pardon and would like to have the arrest removed from your background, then you may be required to show that actual innocence formed the basis of your pardon. If the court order or the pardon decision fails to include the reasoning, you will have difficulty obtaining an expunction. To be sure, pardons granted without any reason provided may not be eligible for expunction. Similarly, a pardon granted because you had already served a significant amount of your sentence or are now in advanced age may not be eligible for expunction.
The most challenging expunction cases exist for clients that never received a trial. Generally, this can occur in one of two ways. First, the police arrest you, but the prosecutor never charges you with a crime. Second, the police arrest you, the prosecutor charges you, but the case is either dropped or dismissed before trial. These cases are more difficult because they require your release from jail without a trial or probation, and that the statute of limitations bars the prosecutor or district attorney from issuing an indictment.
If you try to get an expunction this way, you must show to the court that the jail released you without a probation order and that the case never reached a final decision. It does not matter whether the probation was supervised or unsupervised.
There may also be an issue surrounding the waiting period after the arrest. You are entitled to an expunction after a certain waiting period when you are arrested but never indicted for the crime—the waiting period changes based on whether the offense is a felony or misdemeanor. Usually, the waiting period is 180 days for misdemeanors and three years for a felony. If the prosecutor or district attorney does not indict you within these time periods, you may qualify for an expunction. If you are indicted within these time periods, you will not be eligible for an expunction, even if the court dismisses the case later.
The expunctions coming after waiting periods have passed are not total expunctions. The rule for this type of expunction still allows the police department and the prosecutor/district attorney to retain the arrest files.
In limited circumstances, you can qualify for an expunction if the indictment is later dismissed. However, the dismissal of the charge must occur for one of the following reasons:
- You completed a pre-trial intervention program;
- The indictment was based on incorrect information; OR
- The indictment was void for some reason.
You may also receive an expunction because of mistakes or defects in the indictment. Still, the errors must show that the indictment failed to satisfy the standard of “probable cause.” The law requires probable cause for a valid arrest. If there is no probable cause, then the police violated your rights when they arrested you. A dismissal for other defects in the indictment, such as the following, do not qualify for expunctions:
- Excluding evidence like confessions;
- Insufficient evidence to convict you at trial
- A witness failing to testify against you;
- A witness committing misconduct; OR
- Your conviction in another case
The fact that you must show the court that the evidence presented to indict you was false makes these types of expunctions difficult. Indictments result from grand jury proceedings, which are not available to the public. Your ability to challenge evidence as false when you do not have access to the evidence creates a nearly impossible task.
You may have been arrested for a crime and through the efforts of your criminal defense attorney you may have the option of something known as Tarrant County deferred prosecution. A deferred prosecution means that the criminal charges against you will be temporarily placed on hold and eventually withdrawn and dismissed if you do certain things requested by the prosecutor. Examples include staying out of trouble or entering and completing mental health sessions or a drug treatment program. Once you prove that you have completed the conditions, the prosecutor will dismiss the charges against you. Still, the fact that you were arrested and charged with a crime may show up on your record. In these cases, you may be eligible for expunction. However, to qualify, you cannot have pled guilty or have taken your case to trial.
Suppose you were arrested for a municipal offense (sometimes called ordinances) when you were under the age of 15 that was fine-only. In that case, you can apply for an expunction after turning seventeen. You will only need to pay a $30 fee and make a written request to the court.
If you were charged with tobacco use as a minor and were convicted, you might be eligible for an expunction after you complete either a tobacco awareness program or complete tobacco-related community service. You will also need to pay the $30 fee and make a written request to the court.
Likewise, if you drank alcohol in an unlicensed establishment, you may qualify for an expunction. You may not have a subsequent similar conviction within a year to qualify for expungement. If the police arrested you for drinking alcohol as a minor, you could apply for an expunction once you turn twenty-one.
If you do not qualify for expunction under any of the sections above, then you may be able to receive one if the prosecutor in your case requests it from the judge. This option is available only if you have not yet proceeded to trial on the pending charges. This means that once your trial begins, you may not be eligible for an expunction under this section of the law. You still, however, may receive an expunction if you are found not guilty.
If the case against you is weak, then your lawyer may be able to negotiate to have your case dropped and have the prosecutor recommend to the judge to have the arrest record expunged. The judge can then decide whether he agrees with the prosecutor and your lawyer. If so, then you may be granted an expunction.
The law limits the amount of time that the government must bring criminal charges against you. How much time the government has depends on the specific criminal offense. For some crimes, like murder, there is no limit on when they can bring charges. But if the police arrested you for a crime that does have a statute of limitations, then you may be eligible for expunction if you can show that the time that the government had to charge you has expired. To be certain, expunction can only happen in this situation if it is no longer possible for the prosecutor to bring charges against you, precisely because the statute of limitations has run out. Cases in which prosecution is not feasible for some other reason may not qualify for expunction.
To get an expunction, you will need to apply through the Texas courts. In Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas, you will be required to apply through the Tarrant County District Clerk and your expunction will be staffed through a Tarrant County felony district court judge. There are forms available online that can help you get the process started. Still, applying for an expunction is not free, and if your application is denied, you may not receive a refund. Additionally, expunction is a legal process that will require you to follow specific rules and procedures. You will also need to be able to interpret legal language and statutes to apply successfully. As a result, before you begin, you will want to consult with an experienced Texas attorney to find out if you are eligible. Because receiving an expunction can affect your livelihood, among other vital aspects of your life, it is always recommended that you hire a lawyer to help you through this process.
The first step in getting an expunction is filing a petition at a Tarrant County court, or whichever court corresponds with the county of your criminal charges. While you may find a form to do this online, it is recommended that you have a lawyer draft your petition for you. Still, to complete your petition, you will need to have information about your criminal history. It is recommended that you obtain your criminal record before you fill out the petition for expunction. This way, you will know precisely what it contains before you begin the process of having things removed. You will need to request this information from all law enforcement agencies and criminal justice entities you have had contact with in the past. These agencies may require a fee for copies of your arrest report and other criminal history information.
The next step is completing the petition. Because a petition is a legal document that will eventually be filed with the court, incorrectly filling it out will have consequences. The petition should have your personal identifying information (name, date of birth, address, etc.), the date of the arrest, the name of the arresting agency, and a list of all the law enforcement entities that may have a record of your arrest. If your arrest resulted in you being charged with a crime, then the petition should also include the case number, the name of the court, and how and when the charges were resolved (i.e., dismissed, withdrawn, or acquitted). You must also verify your petition. To verify a petition, you must have it signed by a notary.
Once your petition is complete, you will need to file it with the proper court. Failing to file it correctly can result in the rejection of your petition. For example, in Fort Worth, Texas, if you fail to file the petition through the Felony District Courts, it will be denied. If you file the petition through the misdemeanor courts of Tarrant County, it will be denied. In most cases, you will need to file the petition with the court that would have handled your arrest or criminal trial. Again, your attorney will be the best resource in figuring out where to file your petition. Once filed, the court will send out notices for a hearing where all the responding agencies will have an opportunity to contest your expunction. If no one challenges your petition for expunction, then it will likely be granted by the court.
The last step in the expunction process is obtaining the judge’s signature on the order directing law enforcement agencies to remove your arrest record from your criminal history. To do this, you will need to have a draft order of expunction and present it to the judge once the judge grants your petition granted. This may all occur at your expunction hearing. You will need to send your signed expunction order to all agencies with information about your arrest record. Depending on what the order says, they will either delete their records or return them to the clerk of court.
An expunction is a legal process where you can have the records surrounding an arrest removed from public view. To receive an expunction, you must file for one with a Texas court. Not all arrests are eligible for expunction, and generally, most criminal charges that resulted in you pleading or being found guilty will not qualify for expunction.
In Texas, whenever you are arrested, a record is usually created. This means that even if the charges were dismissed or you were found not guilty, there is still a record out there that says you were arrested. Potential employers and anyone else looking into your background may be able to see your arrest record. As a result, you may want to investigate getting an expunction to protect your good name and to ensure that you have a clean slate.
In Texas, expunction and expungement are the same. Expungement is just another way of spelling expunction. They both involve the removal of information from your record. Generally, you will not be eligible for expunction/expungement if you were convicted of the crime you were arrested for. You will also not be eligible for expunction if you pled guilty or no contest or received deferred adjudication.
In some cases, you can get an expunction if you were arrested and the charges were later dropped. Whether you can get an expunction for dismissed or dropped charges will depend on several factors surrounding why the charges were dropped. It is recommended that you have an experienced Texas lawyer look over the circumstances surrounding your charges being dismissed to determine if they are eligible for expunction. Still, even if your charges are eligible for expunction, you may have to wait until the time runs out when the prosecutor can re-file the charges against you.
In most cases, no. Typically, probation is a form of punishment for a crime you pled guilty to or convicted of. For some Class C misdemeanors, you may qualify for expungement even if you were convicted, but most other criminal offenses will not be eligible.
While it is not required that you hire an attorney to ask the court for an expunction, it is recommended that you do so. An expunction is a legal process that will require filing legal documents and attending a court hearing. Any mistakes in your filing or misstatements during your hearing will have consequences for your case. Additionally, a lawyer will be able to look at your record and tell you, based on the law, whether you are even eligible for an expunction. It is always recommended that you at least consult with a lawyer before filing.
It depends. Generally, if you are arrested, then the arresting agency will keep a record of your arrest. This can show up on your criminal history report. If so, then you may want to file for an expunction. If there is no record of your arrest, then you may not need to file for one. The only way to know for certain is to contact the arresting agency to see if they have information on your arrest and whether they are reporting it to other agencies.
To get an expunction, you must file for one at a Texas court. In Tarrant County, Texas, you can expect to pay between $425 – $525 for a filing fee through the Tarrant County District Clerk. Depending on where you file, there will be court costs that you must pay. These costs will vary depending on the court you file at. It is also recommended that you hire an attorney to handle your expunction. Your lawyer’s fee should also be considered when calculating how much your expunction will cost. While an expunction may end up costing you hundreds of dollars, the value in protecting your career, reputation, and life is priceless.
Yes. To have your record cleared, you must attend a court hearing where the judge will approve or deny your petition for expunction. This is not optional, although you may be able to have your lawyer attend this hearing for you. Not all courts operate in the same way, so you will need to check with the court where you filed your expunction to see if your lawyer can attend the hearing on your behalf.
Yes. The agencies that keep records surrounding your arrest(s) may be able to contest your expunction. The court will send out notices to all agencies with records of your arrest, informing them of your hearing date. If they show up and make a case for why they believe your expunction should be denied, then the judge may consider their arguments and decide on your petition.
Once your petition for expunction is filed, it will generally take at least 30 days to get a court hearing. Once your hearing is completed, and the judge signs the expunction order, the agencies will have six months to delete or turn over the records of your arrest. In Tarrant County and Fort Worth, Texas area, it can take 30 – 90 days to complete an expunction from start to finish.
Your career and good name are important to you. Protecting them should not be left up to chance. Getting an expunction is one way to do this. Still, expunctions are a legal process that can be confusing and confounding. They will involve legal filings and attending a court hearing. Without the help of an experienced Texas lawyer, you will likely have difficulty figuring out if you are eligible for an expunction and making the arguments necessary to convince a judge to grant you one.
If you are applying for an expunction, chances are this is a matter of extreme importance to you. Whether you are doing it to get your dream job or just to make sure that your record is clear, going through the expunction process is not something that you will want to go into blindly. Knowing that a trained professional is handling this legal matter can assure you that your future is in good hands.
You will not get unlimited chances to file for an expunction. What this means is that if you ask the court for an expunction of a certain arrest record and it is denied, then you may not be able to try again later. While you may be able to appeal the court’s decision, you may not be able to re-file for an expunction once it has been denied. So, you will want to give yourself the best chance of getting it right by hiring an experienced Texas lawyer. Without a lawyer, you leave yourself open to the possibility of never being able to remove the arrest from your record and clear your good name.
Being falsely accused of a crime is a reality that some Texans face every day. Having your name dragged through the mud only to later be exonerated, unfortunately, does not end the saga. Because the record of your arrest is still out there, you may face discrimination and a loss of your livelihood. You will not want to gamble on your future by attempting to file your expunction without a lawyer.
While hiring a lawyer to handle your expunction will cost you money, it is nothing compared to what having a good name and a clear record is worth. To be sure, potential employers and financial institutions certainly will make judgments of you based on your record, but if you know that your name is good, then you will never have to worry about that happening. Being in control of how you are perceived by the world is worth more than any amount of money.
The Hampton Law Firm has extensive expertise in helping Texas clients get their records erased. We can help you determine if you are eligible, apply on your behalf for your record to be deleted, and advocate on your behalf in hopes of convincing the judge to honor your request. For a free consultation with our Texas expunction lawyers, reach out to The Hampton Law Firm today by calling (817) 826-9905 or contacting us online.
Need to Expunge Your Criminal Record in Forth Worth?
Our Fort Worth Attorneys Handle Record Expunctions in Tarrant, Dallas, and Collin County.
Were you charged with a crime years ago, and later the charged were dropped? Did you apply for a job and agree to a background check, but find out that an old charge filed against you is still visible on your criminal record?!According to a recent article, approximately one in three American adults have some type of criminal record. With today’s increasingly global society, it is easier than ever for a prospective employer, college, or even date to obtain detailed information on your alleged criminal past and use it to draw unrealistic conclusions about your current behavior or character. Fortunately, some provisions of Texas law permit specific charges, arrests, and convictions to be completely expunged from your record — not just sealed from view. There are many types of criminal charges that can be expunged under Texas law, an expunction lawyer at The Hampton Law Firm, P.L.L.C. can file for relief to get your criminal record expunged in Tarrant County.
What types of criminal convictions can be expunged in Texas?
Chapter 55, Article 55.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure governs record expunction in Texas, and provides for expunction of both arrest and conviction records under certain circumstances.
Texas Record Expunction Eligibility
You may qualify to have your record expunged if:
- acquitted of an alleged felony charge or misdemeanor;
- never charged with a crime related to the arrest;
- convicted of a felony or misdemeanor but pardoned; or
- convicted of a felony or misdemeanor but had the conviction overturned on appeal (unless there were convictions on multiple counts and only one count was overturned).
Is a Record Expunction Different from Having Your Criminal Record Sealed?
Yes, expunging and sealing criminal records are different in Texas. The term expunction is often used interchangeably with record sealing, but this is an error. While they have a similar impact on one’s employment prospects, they’re legally quite different. Sealing an arrest just prevents it from being viewed by members of the public, while expunging an arrest or conviction erases it as if it had never occurred.
Under Texas law, someone whose arrest or conviction has been expunged can legally deny that the arrest occurred, and (when placed under oath) may simply answer that the arrest was expunged without providing further information.
Where should you begin if you’re thinking about having a conviction or arrest record expunged?
If you want to pursue expunction, we highly recommend that you contact an attorney experienced with expunging criminal records. Get a copy of your criminal history from the Texas Department of Public Safety to see exactly what shows on a criminal background check. This will help you ensure that your criminal history is complete and that you’re seeking expunction of all eligible records. You need to make an appointment to have your fingerprints taken, certified, and mailed — you’ll then be provided with an official copy of your criminal record within a few weeks and can decide how to proceed.
If you do decide to go forward with expunction, you’ll want to contact a lawyer for record expunctions. The legal process to expunge charges from your criminal record can be complex, and trying (and failing) to expunge records on your own can make further expunction proceedings even more difficult.
It’s also important to note that any out-of-state convictions will need to be challenged or expunged under that state’s laws, even if they’re affecting your ability to find employment or obtain a professional license in Texas. Texas courts don’t have jurisdiction to expunge or overturn other states’ rulings.
Post-mortem Record Expunctions
Family members of a deceased defendant can also petition for expunction on the decedent’s behalf if he or she fits the other criteria. While most of the reasons for expunction are eliminated upon an individual’s death, it can often be important for the surviving friends and family members to be able to formally clear their loved one’s name.
In addition to the expunction of arrest records, conviction records (for individuals who were pardoned or whose sentences were overturned on appeal) can be expunged at the same time and by going through a single process.
There are a few exceptions to expunction regarding files that can be preserved even after a court grants an expunction order. The most common exception involves a situation in which the statute of limitation on the alleged crime has not yet expired and the police have a reasonable belief that additional investigation could lead to re-arrest and prosecution. If they’re able to testify to this before the court, they may be granted waiver to keep certain otherwise-expunged arrest records intact to use for further investigation.
Contact a Record Expunction Lawyer in Fort Worth Today
Call the Hampton Law Firm today at 817-435-2909 or send us an email to request a complimentary case review. If you need a record expunction in Fort Worth, Texas we can help you get one. Let us help you clear your record so that you don’t have anything to worry about during background checks going forward.