Have you ever made a mistake in your past that you wish you could erase? If so, then you may be interested in learning about expungement. Expungement is the process of sealing your criminal record so that it is not visible to the general public. In Texas, there are certain requirements that must be met in order for someone to qualify for expungement. In this blog post, we will discuss those requirements and help you determine if you are eligible to have your record sealed.
What Expungement Does
An expungement does not erase your criminal record. Rather, it prevents the general public from being able to see your record. This is important because a criminal record can make it difficult to find a job, rent an apartment, or get approved for a loan. If your record is sealed, potential employers and landlords will not be able to see it when they conduct a background check.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you are applying for a job in law enforcement or with the government, your criminal record will still be visible to those conducting the background check. Additionally, if you are charged with another crime in the future, your previous criminal record can become unsealed and public again.
Becoming eligible for expungement is open to anyone provided that you meet the appropriate qualifications. In Texas, that means:
- You must have been acquitted of the criminal charge, or the charge must have been dismissed or dropped.
- You must have completed any sentence or probation associated with the criminal charge.
- The criminal charge must not be a felony.
- The criminal charge must not be currently pending.
Other factors, such as the severity of the crime and your criminal history, may also be taken into consideration. If you meet all of the above qualifications, then you can begin the expungement process.
Petitioning for Expungement
The first step in the expungement process is to file a petition with the court. This is typically done through an attorney, although you are allowed to represent yourself in court if you wish. Doing so is not usually the best idea. This is because the process can be complex and without an attorney, you may not be aware of all the necessary steps required to successfully expunge your record.
What an attorney like John Teakell will do for you is file the necessary paperwork and represent you in court. He will also help to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. If the district attorney opposes your petition, John will be there to argue on your behalf and help you get the best possible outcome.
And that outcome is determined by the court. The court will review the case and make its best determination on whether or not to grant the petition. The decision is usually influenced by how closely you meet the criteria and how much time has passed since your last crime occurred.
If Your Record Is Expunged
If your record is expunged, the court order will direct all law enforcement agencies and state agencies to remove all references to the arrest or conviction from their files. The court order will do the same of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The court order will also require the Texas Department of Public Safety to remove your name from any public index that it maintains.
The court order will not, however, require the agencies to remove all references to your arrest or conviction from their non-public files. Nor will the court order prohibit those agencies from disclosing information about your arrest or conviction to another criminal justice agency, such as a prosecutor.
If you are seeking employment, you can truthfully say that you have never been convicted of a crime if your record has been expunged. You should, however, be prepared to disclose the arrest and conviction if you are applying for a job in law enforcement or with a state agency. You should also be prepared to disclose the arrest and conviction if you are required to do so by a court order.
If you have been convicted of a crime and your record has not been expunged, you may still be able to truthfully say that you have never been convicted of a crime if the conviction is for a misdemeanor and you have successfully completed your sentence, including any term of probation or parole, more than five years ago.
Arrested but not convicted of a crime? You can truthfully say that you have never been arrested for that crime if the arresting agency has destroyed all records of the arrest and there is no pending criminal case against you.
You should consult with an attorney to determine whether your record may be eligible for expungement and, if so, to assist you in preparing and filing the necessary petition and orders.
That’s because the above is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice to your specific case. You should consult with John Teakell today to see if your specific situation qualifies for expungement; and, if so, he can assist you in preparing your case right away.