The Process of Expunging Criminal Records in Texas
Texas law has provisions in place that may let certain people under specific circumstances to have their criminal history hidden from the view of the public and essentially “erased.” This process is called expungement, and most states in the U.S. allow it in one form or another.
In Texas, expungement means that any records related to your arrest or the trial that followed will be sealed away, as if the crime had never occurred. After your record is expunged, you can legally state that you’ve never been arrested or charged, and no one ever needs to know the truth.
The reason that a provision such as this is important is because a criminal record can make it truly difficult for someone to move on with their life and get things back to normal. Largely, this is due to the use of background checks by people and agencies like credit card companies, banks, landlords, and potential employers. No one wants to see a criminal charge in your background, because they believe this makes you a higher risk. Because of this, many places will refuse to do business with you altogether, and employers and landlords might pass you over for a candidate that doesn’t have a criminal record. With expungement, though, none of that matters because those people won’t ever know that you committed a crime in the past.
Kinds of documentation that Texas will expunge
If you qualify for expungement and your petition is granted by the court, there are a wide variety of records that could possibly be expunged, including:
- mug shots
- DNA samples
- trial transcripts
- other arrest records
Once those records are removed from the various government agencies that house them, as far as the rest of the world is concerned your crime never happened.
Requirements for expungement in the state of Texas
Expungement eligibility in Texas has a number of moving parts, but there are some general guidelines.
Anyone arrested – either for a felony or a misdemeanor – who is later found not guilty may petition the court for their record to be expunged. Before they can do this, they must wait 30 days or more after they have been acquitted. Expungement is also allowed for those individuals who were convicted but later pardoned by the Governor.
In fact, in general expungement is allowed for people who have been convicted of a crime, but these cases will naturally receive more intense scrutiny from courts deciding whether or not to grant the expungement, and the requirements vary depending on the nature of the crime.
So long as you haven’t committed any crimes in the time between the arrest you are petitioning and when you file your request for expungement, it is possible to expunge most misdemeanor convictions. Felonies are a bit of a different story. While it is possible to have some felonies expunged from your record, the state of Texas does not often grant these petitions.
DUIs are typically considered felonies, and as such are not often expunged from records. If however, your DUI was charged as a misdemeanor, it is within the realm of possibility for the state to grant expungement.
Texas law also takes into consideration the age of the offender. If a juvenile has been arrested and convicted, they can petition to have their record expunged as soon as they turn 18. So long as that individual has only one criminal incident on their record, expungement will be granted provided that the offense was not a sexual crime.
Process of expungement in Texas
Anyone desiring to have a record expunged in Texas is required to complete the correct application form and send it in as a petition. This application must include:
- your personal information
- arrest information
- trial information
- proof of completing any sentence or probation period
The court will schedule a hearing after they receive your application, and the decision will be made about whether or not expunging your record is in the favor of the court.
If you are considering having a criminal record expunged, it is in your best interests to secure an experienced Texas criminal attorney who knows the ins and outs of expungement in the state.