Having a criminal record may impede individuals from obtaining employment, securing promotions, applying to colleges or universities, getting a loan, owning a firearm, and many, many other similar experiences. In some situations, someone with a criminal record may seek to have criminal charges expunged. This is known as expunction. With the assistance of an experienced Texas expunction attorney, those with criminal records may be able to wipe their slates clean.
Who qualifies for expunction?
The state of Texas provides limited circumstances in which an individual may apply for expunction. These include:
- An arrest that was never charged;
- A charge that was later dismissed;
- Conviction of specific misdemeanor juvenile offenses;
- Conviction of specific alcohol-related offenses (if the offender was a minor)
- A conviction for failure to attend school;
- An arrest, charge or conviction that was the result of identify theft;
- A conviction that was later overturned by the trial court of Court of Appeals; or
- A conviction that was later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States.
Not all individuals that meet the above criteria are eligible to apply for expunction. For example, if the individual was convicted of a felony within 5 years of the charge the individual would like expunged, expunction will not be granted. A criminal defense attorney will be able to determine if the individual qualifies for an expunction.
How do you apply for an expunction?
If the individual is eligible for expunction, a Petition for Expunction that seeks an Order of Expunction must be filed with the proper district court. There are certain criteria and deadlines in place for such a petition. Without proper legal guidance, mistakes may be made that delay the legal process.
The petition must include the individual’s identifying information, the nature of the offense, the dates of the alleged offense and arrest, the arresting agency’s name, and a list of facilities that may have records of the charges. If charges were filed, the case number, court name, and disposition of the case (along with the date) should also be included.
Once all of the required information is entered into the petition, it will be filed with the district court. The court will then set a hearing date. The individual filing the petition, along with any agencies and facilities that may wish to contest the expunction, will be allowed to attend the hearing. Although others may challenge the expunction, if all of the requirements for expunction are met, the court will generally grant it.
If the expunction is granted, the judge will sign the Order of Expunction. This order may be submitted to all entities that may have records or files with the charges. These records must be deleted or returned to the clerk of court.
In some cases, depending on the nature of the crime, an expunction may not be allowed. However, an Order for Nondisclosure may be possible. An Order for Nondisclosure does not provide for the destruction of all records of the offense like an expunction does. However, it does limit who is able to access criminal records. For example, the charges will be removed from public record.
Seeking an expunction is complex. It is best to consult with an attorney experienced in expunctions to ensure all legal requirements are met.
Do you need assistance with an expunction?
At the Hampton Eppes Law Group, our legal team is experienced in expunctions. We understand which charges are eligible for expunction as well as the legal requirements for obtaining an order of expunction. To schedule your free consultation, call 817-877-5201 or visit www.hamptonlegalgroup.com.