Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, some mistakes can stay with you forever. An arrest record can ruin your reputation and jeopardize your ability to get into college, land a great job, finance a house, or lease a vehicle. Fortunately, there is a way in Texas to have certain criminal records erased or permanently destroyed. In this article, our Dallas expunction lawyer explains how to wipe the slate clean and answers some frequently asked questions about expunctions in Texas.
An expunction, also called an expungement, is the only way to completely remove an arrest or charge from your record. An expunction is a court order that forces all law enforcement, government agencies and private companies to permanently destroy all records of an arrest and the subsequent prosecution. It is as if it never occurred. In fact, you can deny that you were ever arrested once your record has been expunged. Unfortunately, not everyone will qualify for an expunction. They are granted in limited circumstances.
Under Texas law, you may qualify for an expunction if any of the following apply:
You are NOT eligible for an expunction if any of the following apply:
To find out for sure if you qualify for an expunction, it’s important to contact an experienced Dallas expunction lawyer.
The first step to successfully obtain an expunction is to hire an experienced Dallas expunction lawyer. Expunctions can be complicated. Determining who qualifies, calculating the appropriate waiting period and correctly petitioning the court should be left to a qualified legal professional. Here’s an overview of the steps:
The waiting period for an expunction varies. If you were acquitted by a jury, there is no waiting period. If your case was dismissed after successfully completing a diversion program in Dallas County, you may also be eligible for an expunction right away. However, if your case was never filed, the waiting period can range from 180 days from the date of arrest to up to three years from the date of arrest. It’s best to contact a Dallas expunction lawyer to find out how long you must wait before you are expunction eligible. The lawyer will need the circumstances of your case, as well as date of your offense, the date the case was filed, and the date of dismissal to accurately calculate your waiting period.
If you are not eligible for an expunction, don’t lose hope. The next best option is to try to obtain an order of nondisclosure. A nondisclosure is a court order that prevents public entities, such as DPS and other law enforcement agencies, from disclosing or releasing arrest and criminal case information to the public. However, the records will remain available to government agencies and will be admissible in certain court actions. It is easier to qualify for a nondisclosure than an expunction. For example, you may be eligible for a nondisclosure if you successfully complete deferred adjudication for certain felonies or misdemeanors.
In Texas, there are two ways to clean up a criminal record – an expunction or nondisclosure. Both have to be ordered by a judge. However, an expunction erases a criminal record, while a nondisclosure seals it from public view. People who have received a nondisclosure will still have to disclose their criminal record if they are applying for certain jobs, such as a career in law enforcement. A Dallas expunction lawyer can assess your situation and determine whether you qualify for an expunction, nondisclosure or neither.
Yes, this is a misconception. People wrongly believe that if their case is dismissed, it won’t show up during a background check. If your case is dismissed, the arrest will remain on your record – unless it is expunged or nondisclosed.
Once a petition for expunction has been filed with the court, it can take from a few weeks to a few months to get your record expunged. If you meet the eligibility requirements and the state doesn’t oppose it, the court could approve the petition quickly. If the judge wants to have a hearing to ensure eligibility or if prosecutors object, it could delay the process. Once the judge signs the expunction order, it could take four to six months before the records are actually deleted. This is because Texas DPS is backlogged and they are the clearinghouse for criminal records. The order must also be processed by other private and public entities.
Yes, once an expunction is final, you may deny the arrest on applications, including for employment, school or the military.
Our team has helped hundreds of people put their past behind them and, hopefully, we can help you too. To obtain an expunction, very little effort is required on your part. Our Dallas expunction lawyer will do all the heavy lifting. We will determine if you’re eligible for an expungement, file the motion, petition the court, and represent you in court if the expunction is contested and a hearing is required. To get started today, call 214-903-4000 for a free consultation with an experienced Dallas expunction lawyer.