If you have been arrested for a crime in Texas, not only will a conviction lead to jail/prison time, fines, and other penalties, but also a permanent criminal record. Having a criminal record can cause irreparable harm to your professional reputation and personal life, making it difficult to seek employment, find housing, apply for college, and take advantage of many of life’s opportunities.
Fortunately, it is possible to expunge or seal your criminal record. When your record is expunged or sealed, certain parties—such as potential employers and landlords—who conduct background checks from accessing your information.
Expunction in Texas
If your criminal record is expunged, it is not released to the public and you are allowed to deny that you have been arrested in the first place. If your arrest did not result in a guilty verdict, you could expunge a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense.
Your criminal record is eligible for expunction if you were arrested and one of the following is true:
- Your charges were dismissed at trial
- The court acquitted you
- You were arrested but never charged
- You were convicted but later found innocent or pardoned
According to Texas law, you must wait a certain amount of time prior to applying for expunction. This waiting period depends on the seriousness of the crime you were arrested for.
For example, if you were arrested for a Class C misdemeanor, you need to wait 180 days after your arrest to apply for expunction. For a Class A or B misdemeanor, the waiting period is one year. For felonies, you need to wait three years.
Record Sealing in Texas
If you do not qualify for expunction, you may still be eligible for record sealing through an order of non-disclosure when you complete deferred adjudication.
In Texas, deferred adjudication is a form of a plea bargain where you pled guilty or no contest to a criminal offense in exchange for meeting specific court requirements, such as community supervision. When a criminal record is sealed, only certain government authorities can view it.
Can a Misdemeanor be Expunged in Texas?
A misdemeanor may be expunged if your arrest did not result in a guilty verdict. If you were convicted with a serious misdemeanor, you must wait two years before applying for an order of non-disclosure. However, most misdemeanors are eligible for record sealing immediately.
If you were charged with a felony, the waiting period is five years.
The following are crimes which are never eligible for record sealing in Texas:
- Domestic violence
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Human trafficking
- Any criminal offense which requires you to register as a sex offender
How to File for Expunction or Record Sealing
If you are eligible for expunction or record sealing, you must file a Petition for Expunction or Petition for an Order of Non-Disclosure from with the court your case was originally held. Due to the complexities of these processes, having a criminal defense attorney on your side can help you obtain the results you desire.
Contact us to let our College Station criminal defense lawyer at The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. review your situation and determine if you are eligible for expungement or record sealing in Texas.