Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes lead to a criminal record or conviction. In Texas, and many other jurisdictions, obtaining an expunction is considered the ideal remedy to “erase” the records dealing with a person’s arrest, and subsequent criminal record. An expunction is the permanent removal of records related to an arrest or criminal proceeding. Generally, the records are held by governmental agencies, but sometimes schools and other agencies may have the records as well.
When a person is granted an expunction, a Judge orders the agencies listed in the petition, (or request for expunction) to destroy any and all documents connected to that arrest. To break it down further, successfully obtaining an expunction means there are no longer any records of your arrest. It is as if the arrest NEVER happened. Further, an expunction allows you to deny the arrest ever happened. Having a clean record can be the key to getting a job, housing, or other goals that can be hindered by a criminal record.
While many people are deserving of expunctions, the ability to expunge a record is not based on fairness or favoritism. It is important to understand that expunctions can only be granted where a person is eligible under the law.
Not all cases are eligible for expunction. While Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides an expansive list of expunction eligibility, common scenarios for expunction include:
- Cases in which an individual was arrested, but was never ultimately charged with the crime.
- Crimes that ultimately ended in a dismissal.
- Cases in which a person has been acquitted, or found not guilty of criminal charges.
In most cases, the statute of limitations must lapse or expire before an individual is eligible for an expunction. The statute of limitations is the period of time (by law) that the Government has to file a case against you. For most misdemeanors, the statute of limitations is two years. While it can certainly vary, the statute of limitations on most felonies is five years. There are of course, exceptions to every rule. When a person has been acquitted of criminal charges, they are entitled to an expunction within 30 days of the acquittal. (Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 55.02).
According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the law in Texas does not permit records to be expunged in cases that resulted in court-ordered community supervision, also known as probation and deferred adjudication. (Tex. Crim. Proc. Code Ann. § 55.01). Limitations such as this, on the ability to expunge a record highlight the importance of understanding how the outcome of your case can affect your future. It is important to have attorneys who give you the tools to make informed decisions about what outcome is right for you, and the potential consequences of those decisions.
We have successfully obtained Expunctions in Texas. Take the first step in cleaning up your criminal record–Call Kara Carreras to find out if your case is eligible for an expunction.