Having a criminal conviction on your record can create all sorts of problems in your life. It can affect your job prospects, your ability to get a loan, and even your chances of getting into certain schools or colleges.
The good news is that there are ways that you can have your criminal record expunged. This means that it’s erased, and the public won’t be able to see it. Call a Fort Worth expunction lawyer for help removing prior convictions from public view. The lawyers at Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC are here to help you get your life back on track.
What is an Expunction?
An expunction, or expungement, is a court order that seals your criminal record, preventing it from being disclosed to anyone. It will also allow you to legally deny any prior arrests or convictions. An expunction lawyer can guide you through the process of having your record expunged.
If your record has been expunged, it can no longer be used against you in a court of law. A criminal record that’s been expunged will not appear on background checks and can no longer be used against you in sentencing in a future criminal case.
Under Texas law, whether you were arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony, your criminal record may meet the requirements for expunction if:
- The judge or jury ruled in your favor and you were acquitted at trial with a Not Guilty;
- Your case was completely dismissed and the Statute of Limitations has passed;
- You received a presidential pardon or pardon from the governor (extremely rare);
- You weren’t formally charged (i.e. case was not filed or indicted) after arrest and the waiting period is over (2 years for misdemeanors; 3 year minimum for felonies; some charges have no statute of limitations);
What Criminal Records Can Be Expunged versus Non-Disclosed?
Arrests stay on your record for life, regardless of the seriousness of the offense or if the case was dropped unless your obtain an expunction or a non-disclosure. In order for the case to be eligible to file a lawsuit to expunge your record (get it completely off your record), the case must have been dismissed, no billed by a Tarrant County Grand Jury, dropped by the arresting agency, or ended in an acquittal at trial. If you plead guilty, were placed on deferred or straight probation, or the case resulted in a conviction, you are not eligible for an expunction in the State of Texas.
If you are not eligible for a complete expunction, you may still be able to seal your record with a non-disclosure with the following Texas general guidelines (make sure to consult with a lawyer because there are special rules and restrictions for certain types of offenses, like family violence offenses):
- Misdemeanor – Your record may be non-disclosed after the completion of deferred adjudication probation and the case resulted in a dismissal. There can be up to a 2 year waiting period for misdemeanors non-disclosures and it usually requires no other criminal history. Your lawyer can help you act quickly if this applies to you, so you don’t have to worry about suffering the penalties of these charges on your record.
- Felony – Your record may be non-disclosed after the completion of deferred adjudication probation and the case resulted in a dismissal. You’ll have to wait five years for your lawyer to non-disclose a felony record. After the five-year waiting period, you have an opportunity to act.
- Aggravated & Family Violence Offenses – Some types of cases may never be expunged or non-disclosed even if they resulted in a dismissal after completing deferred probation. If you’ve been charged with one of these offenses, reach out for a lawyer’s help in reducing the penalties or trying to get an outcome that can be sealed some day.
Texas’ Expunction Process
The process for getting your criminal record expunged in Texas isn’t easy. It requires a lawyer and can take months to finish, but if your expungement is successful, the offenses on your record may be permanently gone. If you’re not sure whether you qualify or what steps to take, contact our Fort Worth expunction lawyers, who have extensive experience.
The first step your lawyer will take is filing a petition for expunction with the court. This petition must include:
- A certified copy of your arrest warrant or citation
- A certified copy of the judgment of conviction or plea agreement
- A sworn statement from the defendant stating that he has no other pending charges against you
- A sworn statement from the prosecutor stating that there are no other pending charges against you
The petition also has to include proof of payment of all the fees required by law or court order, such as filing fees. Your lawyer will be able to help determine whether these fees apply to you and how much they’re likely to cost.
You may also need to provide proof that you have completed any probation or other requirements imposed by the court.
Finally, a hearing will be scheduled with the Court if the State does not agree to the expunction or non-disclosure. The judge will then review all of the documents provided by both sides before making a decision as to whether or not to grant an expunction or non-disclosure. If granted, then all of your criminal records are expunged.
We’ll Help You Start The Expunction Process
The option to get rid of your criminal records means you have a chance to move forward with your life without worrying about the past coming back to haunt you. You have the chance to apply for jobs, housing, and other opportunities without worry or fear.
A Fort Worth expunction lawyer can help you get the process in motion and change your life. Give the attorneys at Hoeller McLaughlin PLLC a call at 817-334-7900 or complete our online form so we can get in touch with you.