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CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Austin Expunction Attorney

Criminal Record Expunction Lawyer in Austin, TX

A criminal record can cause real problems when it comes to getting a job, an apartment, a professional license, and a whole host of other situations.  Unfortunately, for many cases in which there was a final conviction, these charges might stay on your record for life.  If your case was dismissed, your situation may be much better.  You could be eligible to wipe your record clean with an expunction of your criminal record.

Having your criminal record sealed or expunged can go a long way in protecting your future and allowing you to live a normal life. In order to give yourself the best chance of expunging your criminal record, contact an Austin expunction attorney at ATX Legal to help you navigate the legal waters.

Elements of a Criminal Record

Before talking about what an expunction is and how it will help, it’s important to discuss what a criminal record is.  In Texas, a criminal record consists of 3 pieces of information 1) Criminal Charges  2) Days spent in jail, and 3) The disposition.  

So for example, let’s say someone is arrested for DWI, spends 1 night in jail and the case is eventually dismissed.  The criminal charges and 1 day in jail appear on the criminal record even after the dismissal.  It also shows that the case was concluded and was dismissed.  That’s the disposition, which is another way of saying how the case was handled by the Court.  If not dismissed, it could be something like deferred adjudication, convicted with probation, or convicted with jail time.

Expunction Eligibility

Except in very rare cases – like being pardoned by the Governor of Texas – the only way to have your record expunged is if the charges were dismissed.  Some people incorrectly think that because it has been years or decades since the conviction, it can now be expunged.  I wish this were the case, but unfortunately, that’s not correct.  

It is important to speak with an Austin expunction attorney before you get started in order to determine if you’re even eligible for an expunction.  There are other situations where you might be ineligible for expunction, but you can seal your record with an order of nondisclosure.  This is different from an expunction, and in certain ways, it’s not quite as good, but can still be helpful to keep your criminal record away from public view.  If you want to learn more about sealing your record, check out the link above.  Of course, the best way to determine eligibility for either expunction or nondisclosure is to contact an experienced expunction lawyer.

What Does an Expunction Do?

For eligible dismissals, an expunction is a wonderful thing.  It is like a clean slate. Once an expunction order is signed by the judge, entities with information on the arrest must destroy their records.  Once complete, no one will have access to them.  Not judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, DPS, the FBI, or future employers.  In addition, private entities that gather this data are required to remove the record as well.  Even better, you are legally allowed to deny that the arrest ever happened if asked on an application or in any other context.  It truly is like the arrest never happened.

If your case was dismissed you may be eligible for an expunction.  It’s possible that you still have a waiting period if the statute of limitations has not passed for the charges.  This waiting period can be waived by the prosecutor, so it’s worth inquiring about the expunction even if the waiting period has not passed.

The Expunction Petition and Hearing

An expunction doesn’t happen automatically just because your case is dismissed.  You or your Austin expunction lawyer must file a petition with the District Court, and wait for a hearing in case the prosecutor objects to the expunction, which typically occurs about 30 days from when you file.  Most courts will allow the attorney to handle the hearing without the client’s presence, but there are a few exceptions to this general rule, so be sure to ask your attorney if you need to be at the hearing.

If everything is filed correctly, the judge signs the expunction order which goes out to any entity which has information on the arrest.  These entities have up to one year to destroy the records or send them back to the court, which will destroy them.  This goes for both digital and physical copies of the record.

How Long Until the Records are Expunged?

While governmental entities like DPS typically comply within 3-4 months from the date of the Order (they have up to 12 months), it can be a trickier situation when it comes to private companies.  As you probably know, information that is on the internet can be very difficult to remove, so it can cause problems in cases like this.  Additionally, companies like LexisNexis have been sued for failing to properly remove expunged records.  Therefore, it is a good idea to run a background check to make sure there are no outstanding listings of the expunged record that have not been properly removed.  If any private entities have failed to expunge the records, they can be ordered by the Court to do so.  Usually, a letter informing them of the expunction is sufficient, and the records are removed.

Contact an Experienced Austin Expunction Attorney Today

Filing for an expunction is more complicated than it seems at first.  It’s very important to have an Austin expunction lawyer to properly file the petition, go through the process of the hearing, and properly serve the order on all the required entities.  Failure to follow the proper procedures could make the expunction ineffective.

To get started, it is a good idea to order your criminal history.  This is the best way for the attorney to tell if you are eligible for an expunction.  Often clients do not remember the details of the arrest and disposition, but by examining the criminal history it is easy to tell if you are eligible for an expunction, a non-disclosure, or neither.   It will also let your criminal record expunction lawyer know in which court or courts the expunctions must be filed.  Note that a single expunction can cover all charges in a particular county, but if there are charges in multiple counties, they must be handled with separate expunction petitions.

We offer Expunctions throughout Texas on a flat fee basis.  $1600 covers all court fees and attorney fees.  Once all the necessary information and documents have been gathered, we can usually file the expunction within a couple of days, which starts the clock on wiping your record clean.

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