An expungement is a legal proceeding in which a first time offender seeks to have his or her criminal records sealed, thereby making their criminal records unavailable through state or federal repositories. If the person is successful, then the records are expunged. Although an expungement is dealing with someone's criminal record, it is technically a civil action in which the petitioner is asking the court to declare that their criminal records be expunged. The process of expungement or expunction is to remove criminal records from general view. In many jurisdictions the criminal records don't completely disappear and may still be available to sentencing judges, correctional facilities and to law enforcement authorities. The public on the other hand, such as future employers and landlords would not have access to such records and can't use them against you.
In Texas, expungement is covered under Title 1, Chapter 55, of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Under this Chapter, a person who has been placed under custodial arrest for the commission of a misdemeanor or felony is entitled to have all records relating to the arrest expunged if the person was tried for the offense for which they were arrested and was:
- Acquitted by the trial court; or
- Convicted and subsequently pardoned; or
- Pardoned or granted relief on the basis of actual innocence; or
- The person was released and there was no actual conviction.
If the defendant pled guilty, pled no contest or was found guilty of any offense other than a class C misdemeanor, then he or she is not eligible for an expungement. However, the defendant may be eligible for nondisclosure providing a deferred adjudication was granted.
Having an arrest record can pose significant problems, especially when you're applying for a job or applying to rent a home or an apartment. When your livelihood and your ability to obtain housing are threatened, it's a good idea to find out if you're eligible for an expunction under Texas State law. With over 30 years of experience and as a former prosecuting attorney, I will be able to review the circumstances of your arrest and determine whether or not you are eligible for an expunction. If you are, I can help you petition the courts so that we can put this matter behind you as soon as possible and you can move on with your life.