How To Expunge Criminal Record in Texas
A person convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in Texas has to undergo imprisonment or probation. The court may also impose fines, restrictions, or sanctions. All these sentences have potential after-effects on your education, career, job, mortgage, and even when looking for housing as they often call for a criminal history background check.
Many employers turn down people with a criminal past. Any disclosure of the past misdemeanor or felony convictions may lead to the termination or negative stigma at work. Schools and colleges also resort to backgrounds checks when in the admission process. In Texas, a criminal charge has the potential to result in the cancellation of immigration status and repatriation. You may also face denial of gun or driving license notwithstanding your professional or job requirements.
There also restrictions regarding child custody in case you have a past criminal conviction. Texas law excludes convicts from certain subsidized programs and public benefits.
So, how does one make sure that their past conviction does not spoil their present or future? Fortunately, there is an option to expunge a criminal record in Texas. Meet a Houston criminal defense attorney to know the rules and process for the deletion of criminal records or block public access to them.
Texas Expungement Law
There are two ways to remove criminal records in Texas.
- Expunction: Complete removal of your criminal past from public records, including those of the police and prosecution
- Non-Disclosure: A blackout of information on all your offenses from the public record beyond the accessibility of any individual.
An order to expunge all criminal records issued under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 55.02 results in the destruction of files containing a reference to your crime, arrest, and punishment. Once your case is expunged it is gone from public records. Some agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, however, may still have knowledge of the crime.
An order of non-disclosure effectively seals your record and keeps it out of the public view. But these are available to enforcement agencies.
Texas Government Code Section 411.081(d) allows a nondisclosure petition on deferred adjudication in cases of a plea of guilty. However, one must complete his probation to be eligible for it.
In the case of both expunction and no-disclosure awards, a person is entitled to hide his criminal record or deny that he was ever arrested, charged, prosecuted, or jailed.
Eligibility for Expunging Record in Texas
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 55.01 sets the eligibility criteria for seeking an expunction of criminal records. The permission is granted to a person only if
- no criminal charges were filed against him,
- he was charged but acquitted on an appeal,
- charges against him were subject to a later dismissal order,
- he was found innocent after a conviction,
- a grand jury issued a “no-bill” while considering charges against him,
- he was arrested but never tried and prosecutor approves expunction,
- he made a successful plea bargaining,
- he was sentenced for misdemeanor offenses during his childhood, or
- he received a pardoned from the Governor or the President.
However, certain final criminal convictions, including imprisonment for a DWI offense, are not subject to expungement. Also, straight probation is not eligible for an expunction order. For deferred adjudication, it is allowed only for Class C misdemeanors. But those charged with Class A and B misdemeanors or felonies can only petition for an order of non-disclosure. Talk to your Houston criminal defense attorney to know your options.
When a petition for expunction or non-disclosure is denied, one can move the court with a Habeas Corpus writ. Pardon by the Governor or the President is another last resort.
The Process Duration for Expungement in Texas
Depending on the class of offense, there is a mandatory waiting period before a court can take any request for expungement or nondisclosure. It is 180 days after a Class C misdemeanor arrest, a year in case of Class A and B misdemeanors, and 3 to 5 years following an arrest for felonies. Criminal records cited for expunction destroyed within 180 days of the court order.
The process for non-disclosure and expungement in Texas is extremely complex. Contact a capable Houston criminal defense attorney and know options to expunge your criminal records or get a court order preventing public access to your criminal records. Contact Zavala Texas Law to know your options.