Record clearing in Texas
Find clear and practical information on how you can clear your criminal record in Texas
A past criminal record can come between you and getting that perfect job position that you have applied for, or that lovely apartment that you want to move into. Even acquiring a professional license can be quite difficult. A criminal record can dramatically have a negative effect on your social life, especially since such records are usually available online.
There are numerous reasons why an individual might decide to clear their past criminal record. An experienced record clearing attorney knows the laws associated with such processes in Texas. Under the Texas law, you can request the court to seal or expunge your records so that it won’t be available to the general public.
Record clearing in Texas is known as expunction, unlike in other states where it is referred to as expungement. When your record is deleted, then even potential employers are not allowed to the information. Once your criminal record has been expunged, you are not required to disclose it according to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure under Article 55.03.
Record Clearing Options in Texas
If the expunction process is successful, the court orders for expungement, meaning that the records can’t be released or used for any reason. You can deny ever being arrested or about the expunction unless you are asked about it while under oath during a trial. Even so, you can only mention that the record was deleted and, therefore, not reveal any details regarding your history.
2. Order of Nondisclosure
There are criminal records in the state of Texas, which can be sealed by the court under an Order of Nondisclosure. The general public is prohibited from viewing a criminal history that has been sealed. According to the Texas law, agencies that have access to your sealed criminal information can only disclose such details to you and other licensing, criminal justice organizations, and employment firms that are allowed by the law as specified under the Texas Government Code 411.076 (2018).
3. Set Aside
You might be eligible for the conviction of set aside if you had been convicted then received and successfully managed to complete probation. If your conviction is successfully set aside, then your criminal history might appear in some background checks through the records will show that they were dismissed after not being found guilty. There are certain criminal offenses such as Driving Under the Influence and other felonies that do not qualify to be set aside. It is important to note that there are individual counties in the state of Texas that do not allow or grant set-asides. You can talk to your criminal defense attorney to find out if you are eligible for a set aside.
4. Termination of Probation
If you are serving probation, then you might have a chance for early termination or reduced time through a court petition with the help of your lawyer. In order to be eligible, you have to clear all outstanding fees, restitution, and fines. You should also complete all the court-ordered classes. The judge is then required to make a decision if discharging you early from probation is the right choice.
The state of Texas, you can apply for a pardon, and if successful, your gun rights can be restored after a deferred adjudication or conviction. To be eligible for a pardon, you must prove to have exemplary behavior as a result of rehabilitation. Your criminal defense attorney will likely recommend expunction or nondisclosure instead of a pardon if you qualify. If you are not eligible for an expunction, then a pardon will increase your chances to expunge your criminal record.
6. Civil Rights Restoration
In a situation where your civil rights are lost in the state of Texas as a consequence of a federal crime or a conviction in another nation, you can request for restoration of civil rights. There are particular offenses such as drugs, violence, and illegal possession of guns that are not eligible for civil rights restoration. In the case where you have a conviction of a federal; crime, then you have to wait for up to 3 years from the time of conviction before applying. If, however, you were convicted while in another country, then you have to wait for up to 2 years from the time of your conviction to the date of submission.
7. Juvenile Record Sealing
Texas law provides an opportunity for you to petition your case for juvenile record sealing. For you to be eligible for record sealing, you should have no convictions, whether a misdemeanor, felony, or adjudications, since the time of your discharge. Another qualification for the record sealing is that you mustn’t have served a determinate sentence in a juvenile penitentiary. You are required to wait for two years from the time of your discharge though if there was no adjudication, then you won’t have to go through a waiting period.
What Criminal Records Qualify for Expunction in Texas?
There are specific conditions that must be met for you to qualify for expunction in Texas. Whether you were arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor, your record qualifies for expungement under the following conditions, as stated in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure section 55.01 (2018).
- You were acquitted for the crime which you were charged with.
- You had been convicted but later found to be not guilty of the offense.
- You had been convicted but later pardoned for the crime.
- You had been charged officially through an indictment process or information, but the charges against you were dismissed, or the statute of limitations regarding your case expired.
- You had been arrested but not officially charged, yet you satisfy the required waiting period. The state of Texas requires that one waits for a particular period before applying for expunction if you were arrested but were charged for a crime.
“Record clearing in Texas is known as expunction, unlike in other states where it is referred to as expungement. When your record is deleted, then even potential employers are not allowed to the information.”
Waiting Periods for Expunction in Texas
It is important to note that not every criminal record that is considered eligible for expunction requires a waiting period in Texas. If you were found innocent after being convicted or was pardoned for your crimes, then there is no waiting period needed before applying for expunction in Texas.
There is no waiting period in the situation where the state’s attorney provides certification that the files are not required for the subsequent criminal prosecution.
The waiting periods are specified as follows;
- For a class C misdemeanor, you are required to wait for 180 days from the specific date in which you were arrested.
- For Class A or Class B misdemeanor in the event where the charges were not filed, the law specifies that you wait for a period of one year from the date you were arrested. Some examples of crimes categorized as Class A and B include;
- Promotion of prostitution
- Possession of marijuana
- Possession of a firearm without a permit
When an accused who is facing Class A or B misdemeanor is found not guilty of the charges brought against them, the arrest records are still made available to the public. Expunction is an efficient way to ensure that the criminal history of the accused remains legally deniable.
If the accused was arrested but was never charged for the felony charge brought against them, the waiting period for applying for an expunction is three years. The felonies can be classified into the following classes;
- Capital felonies such as murder
- First-degree felonies such as aggravated sexual assault
- Second-degree felonies such as domestic violence
- Third-degree felonies such as selling large amounts of drugs
- State jail felonies such as the crimes that are not mentioned in the above categories.
An arrest made for a felony, especially one that is categorized as a capital felony or a first-degree felony, can potentially prejudice law enforcement agencies if you are arrested later in the future. In such a situation, your record clearing attorney would advise you to file for an expunction petition for the records to be eligible for removal.
You may also seek an expunction for a close relative who is deceased and had a criminal record. Applying for expunction on behalf of the deceased person requires that the deceased qualify under the specifications listed above and in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
What Criminal Records Qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure in Texas?
With the help of your defense attorney, you can petition for a court order of nondisclosure in a situation where you pled guilty or chose a no contest to the charges against you. In addition to that, you should have also been successful in completing the deferred adjudication community supervision as required by the law.
As explained in the Texas Government Code section 411.0715 and 411.0725 (2018), the waiting period for a misdemeanor is listed as two years while for felonies, you will have to wait for 5 years before applying for an order of nondisclosure. Most convictions classified as misdemeanors are usually eligible for sealing. If your punishment required the payment of a fine only, then there is no waiting period. On the other hand, if it entailed more than a fine, then you have to wait for two years after you have completed all the necessary terms of the sentence for your records to be sealed, as explained in section 411.073 and 411.07035 (2018).
The following offenses are not eligible for a successful order of disclosure, according to Texas Government Code section 411.074 (2018).
- An offense that requires you to be listed as a sex offender
- An offense categorized as aggravated kidnapping
- Human trafficking
- An offense that causes injury to a child, an elderly or a disabled person
- An offense regarding family violence
Benefits of Clearing Your Record in Texas
- The benefits of having your records expunged far outweigh the waiting period and the costs incurred during the process. Having a clean slate to start over again without worrying about your criminal past gives a peace of mind as you go about your life. Some of the benefits include;
- You can confidently tell a potential or current employer or even friends that you have no criminal history. Such information can be quite a boost to your career and social life without worrying about people judging you differently or refusing to give you a job.
- Expunction increases your eligibility for educational programs and student loans. You can further your education and professional career without worrying about not qualifying for key programs that you are interested in.
- You can qualify for housing rentals and mortgage loans. You won’t have to worry about finding a home for you and your family because you can afford home loans as a result of having your records cleared.
- Have a clean background check. The constant worrying about people finding out your criminal background doesn’t have to be a problem anymore once your records are cleared and prohibited from the general public.
How Long Does It Take for My Record to Be Cleared?
In most cases, the process of expunction takes approximately 30 days for the scheduling of the hearing date after you file a petition for expunction. The whole process typically goes on for about up to six weeks. If the court agrees to grant the expungement, it will take a period of 180 days for federal, state, and local agencies to destroy your criminal records.
What Does the Expunction Process Entail?
Successfully getting your criminal record expunged or getting an order of nondisclosure is usually a complex and confusing process for an individual who is acting without the help of a record clearing attorney. You can give yourself the best chance to successfully get your records expunged by working with a reputable record clearing attorney in Texas, who is familiar with all the laws regarding expunction and order of nondisclosure.
Your Texas expungement attorney will provide you with the necessary details involved in the expungement process. He/she will be in charge of filing the required expunction documents with the court of Law. He/she will prepare the proper documents and then deliver them for your official signature. Your lawyer will then have the documents notarized, and then file them as required by the courts.
Contact a top-performing record clearing lawyer in Texas today to do away with your criminal past for a chance to start over without worrying about background checks. Find out if you are eligible for an expunction by consulting with your attorney.
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