Getting arrested for a crime is all it takes to start building a criminal history. This record will include information about your arrest, time spent in jail or detention, fingerprints, as well as any court records associated with your charges.
A criminal history will follow you throughout your life and can make living much more difficult – even if you were never convicted. It can put you at a disadvantage when you’re looking for jobs, places to live, and can make securing credit at a reasonable interest rate – or at all – very difficult.
What Is Expunction?
Expunction – also called “expungement” – can help you get rid of your criminal history under certain circumstances. When a court rules in favor of your petition, criminal records about you held by the government and private entities must be destroyed. By taking advantage of this option, you can resume your life in peace without your prior arrest, detention, or court proceedings getting in the way. You also won’t have to answer “Yes” when applications ask if you have ever been arrested.
Pursuing expunction can give you the new lease on life you’ve been looking for, but it’s important to understand exactly who is eligible for it. Unfortunately, most people won’t qualify for expungement in Texas – starting with those who were convicted of crimes, except when they received a pardon or had their conviction overturned on the basis of actual innocence.
Who Is Eligible for Expunction in Texas?
Because Texas is notoriously tough on crime, the window to qualify for expungement in Texas is very narrow. This can be especially frustrating for those who were not convicted of a crime but are still ineligible to have their criminal records destroyed.
Your record may be eligible for expunction under the following circumstances:
- You were arrested but never charged
- Your charges were dismissed at trial
- You were acquitted
- You were convicted but your innocence was affirmed by a pardon or on appeal
Expunction can only occur after a period of time has elapsed since the arrest. For Class C misdemeanor arrests, expunction isn’t possible until 180 days after the arrest. The waiting period is one year for Class A and B misdemeanors, and three years for felonies.
Ineligible for Expunction? You May Not Be out of Luck.
While many people will not qualify for expunction, they can pursue record sealing through deferred adjudication. This is an arrangement in which the defendant enters a guilty plea, but instead of finding them guilty, the judge orders a deferring judgment – this is not a conviction. The defendant is sentenced to probation, and upon completing probation, their record will be sealed from the public.
This can differ from expunction because it occurs as the events after one’s arrest are unfolding, rather than after they have already been settled. More importantly, however, it differs because one’s criminal record, although hidden from the public, still exists and can be viewed by government agencies.
Concerned about Your Criminal Record? We Can Help.
If you are ready to do something about your criminal record and prevent it from holding you back even further, we at Alband, Lane & Balderama can help. We can provide the legal counsel you require to determine your eligibility for expunction as well as other options that can help you mitigate the impact a criminal history can have on your life as you move forward.