A criminal record can follow you for years. Even after you have done your time, rental opportunities or job offers can be taken away once someone discovers your past mistakes. Even criminal charges and arrests that never ended in a conviction can potentially hold you back.
If this situation sounds familiar, you may not be aware that Texas law offers opportunities for those who’ve turned over a new leaf. The process is called expunction, and it hides your criminal record and prevents past mistakes from getting in your way.
Who Is Eligible for Expunction in Texas?
Dropped charges and arrests that didn’t result in a conviction are some of the most common appearances on Texans’ criminal records. Fortunately, Texas allows you to apply for expunction under the following circumstances of non-conviction:
- You were arrested but never charged with a crime
- You were charged but the case was dropped (or the statute of limitations expired)
- Your case went to court, but you were found “not guilty”
- You were convicted but later found innocent or pardoned
Even when you were convicted of a minor crime in Texas, you may still be able to apply for expunction, although there is often a longer waiting period.
Who is NOT Eligible for a Texas Expunction?
Any offender who has previously been convicted of the following crimes will not be eligible to apply for expunction:
- Sex crimes
- Family violence crimes
If you do believe you’re eligible, but don’t know where to start, reach out to a Texas defense attorney with experience in record expunction first. While you can apply yourself, it helps to have a lawyer by your side. Here’s why…
How a Texas Lawyer Can Make the Expunction Process Easier
Having a Texas defense attorney assist you through the process of expunction can actually make a sometimes lengthy and complicated process much clearer and much easier on you. Here are three reasons to consider consulting one before you take this giant leap toward your future.
An Attorney Can Walk You Through the Process
An experienced expunction attorney knows the ins and outs of filing for record sealing. They don’t just have the answers to your questions. They can manage all the day-to-day correspondence and other busy-work for you.
The “Ins and Outs” of Record Expunction
In order to get your record expunged, you will have to file a petition. The petition includes your information, information about your case, and the results. Once the petition is filed and reviewed, a judge may schedule a hearing. You have to attend the hearing and plead your case. At this point, a judge may grant the expunction and begin the process of hiding your records.
The Devil’s in the Details
This can be a more complicated process than it seems at the outset. You have to file the right petition (perfectly), and hand in everything to the right place, at the right time. Failing to deliver the petition to the right office or some other small mistake can set you back months, for instance.
An Attorney Knows Which Path to Take
They know what process is appropriate for individual clients’ needs. Expunction is just one way to hide your records in the state of Texas. In addition to applying for expunction, you can apply to seal your record through an Order of Nondisclosure, for instance.
Orders of Nondisclosure
You may be eligible to apply for an Order of Nondisclosure, but not eligible to apply for expunction. This type of order comes with different privileges. Employers may ask to see your record and be granted that access, but they will have to go through a special process to do so.
An experienced Texas expunction attorney can help you sort out where you stand and what route is the best one to take.
Judicial System Experience
Not all eligible expunction applications result in sealed records. An experienced Texas attorney has been through the process and has built relationships (including judges). They know what the judges they’ve worked with want to see.
A judge has the power to keep a record public knowledge if they feel that it’s more beneficial for Texas. In order to move on with your life, you will have to impress the judge. Your lawyer can advise on how to behave in court and ways that you can appeal to the judge that will be overseeing your case.
Let an Experienced Texas Expunction Attorney Help Put Your Past Behind You
Most Texas lawyers offer a free phone consultation where you can discuss the details of your criminal record and if it’s possible to pursue an expunction or an order of nondisclosure.
If you think that you are eligible for expunction, or need help “hiding” your criminal record through this process, it’s time to call a Texas defense lawyer.
Take control of your life today and reaching out to begin the process of sealing your criminal history from the public.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.