What is Expunction?
Expunction is the process of clearing your criminal record. If an expunction is granted, you can legally deny the existence of any part of your criminal record. This is because all law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, court clerks, and any online database who has purchased criminal history record information will be required to destroy and obliterate all documents and references to your arrest record. There are certain limitations depending on the outcome of your case, but for those eligible, it can be very beneficial to have your arrest record cleared.
Many people, mistakenly, believe that if they completed probation or deferred adjudication, their records are automatically cleared. This is not true; there are multiple parts to an arrest record. Even if you were only arrested or cited and a formal charge was never filed, you may still have a criminal record. Sometimes it is not until a potential employer or future landlord runs a criminal background check that some people realize they have a public criminal record.
There is good news: Texas is one of only a handful of states that provides a process for expunction of an arrest, allowing you to legally deny the existence of any records reflecting your arrest, formal charge, or disposition of your case.
How a Criminal Record Works in Texas
In Texas, a criminal record has three parts. First, there is the record of your arrest or citation. Second, there is the record of your formal charge, i.e., a complaint, information, or indictment against you. Finally, there is the record of the formal disposition, or how the court disposed of, your formal charge. The disposition is the most important.
If you were placed on probation for anything other than a Class C misdemeanor, a fine-only offense for any charge arising out of your associated arrest, you are most likely not eligible for an expunction. This limitation applies even if your probation was a deferred adjudication community supervisions. In other words, you are not eligible for an expunction if:
Eligibility for Expunction
Before you can expunge your record, you’re going to have to determine if you’re eligible. If you were arrested but never charged, certain categories of offense are eligible for expunction. If you were found not guilty, acquitted by a judge or jury, no matter the offense, you are eligible for expunction of your criminal record.
If you were arrested, but your case was never filed in court or was later dismissed, you may be eligible for expunction after a waiting period, most often, the statute of limitations has expired, which is two years for misdemeanors but between 3-10 years for most felonies.
If you were placed on what is known as deferred adjudication for a Class C misdemeanor (fine-only offenses such as public intoxication or driving under the influence) and completed the deferred probation, you may be eligible after the two-year limitation period is over.
Work with Hurley & Guinn
There are many detailed rules when it comes to expunction. If you think you may have a public criminal record, you should speak with an experienced expunction attorney. The attorneys at Hurley & Guinn have considerable experience expunging records, permanently removing criminal records. Please contact us to determine whether you are eligible for an expunction.