At ATX Legal, our experienced expungement attorney in Texas are committed to helping you put your past behind you. A clean criminal record is extremely important, and we work diligently to ensure the expungement process is seamless and effective.
In the state of Texas, an expungement or order of nondisclosure can help you erase your arrest records and open doors to new opportunities. ATX Legal can usually have your expunction filed within a week, though the entire legal process to have the record expunged does take longer. We handle expunctions across the state of Texas. Schedule a free consultation to quickly see if your criminal record can be expunged.
Expunctions vs Order of Non Disclosure
The laws regarding having a criminal record expunged or to have the record sealed are found in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and the Texas Government Code. Expunctions and Orders of Non Disclosure (also called sealing criminal records) are legal remedies in Texas that can assist in clearing your criminal history, yet they have some key differences.
An expunction, also known as expungement, completely erases a criminal record as if it never happened, enabling you to legally deny the incident in most circumstances. This method is generally available only to those who have had charges dismissed, were not found guilty, or who completed certain pretrial diversion programs.
In contrast, an Order of Non Disclosure seals his or her record, making it invisible to the general public, including most employers. However, certain entities like law enforcement agencies and professional licensing agencies can still access these records.
Record sealing is typically available to those who completed a deferred adjudication probation for their criminal charge. Recent laws also open up nondisclosure for certain misdemeanor convictions as well.
Both methods can significantly improve your prospects for employment, housing, and other opportunities by minimizing the impact of a past criminal charge.
Why get my criminal record sealed or expunged?
Sealing or expunging criminal records can give you a fresh start. It can eliminate hurdles when applying for jobs, housing, or educational opportunities. Criminal records used to be more difficult to obtain, but now they are freely available on the internet for anyone to see. Texas law has not caught up with technology.
Employers often run background checks, and a criminal offense on your record could affect your employability. In contrast, an expunged or sealed record can enable you to confidently assert that you have no criminal history in most cases.
Furthermore, it potentially fosters greater personal confidence, removing the constant worry about past indiscretions impacting your future. Ultimately, expunging or sealing records is a significant step toward reclaiming control over your life.
Process of Expunging a Criminal Record
The process of expunging a criminal record in Texas begins with determining eligibility. Not all offenses are expungable, only those that resulted in an acquittal, pardon, or dismissal, and certain qualifying misdemeanors.
Once you’ve established eligibility, the next step is to gather all necessary information about your case, such as the arrest date, charges, and case number. Next, you need to file a Petition for Expunction with the district clerk in the county where the arrest occurred. This petition must include specific details about the offense and your personal details.
After filing, a judge will set a hearing date. The hearing is assigned to a District Court, who determines whether the individual can have his or her case expunged.
The judge will decide whether your record should be expunged based on the information provided. If the judge grants your petition, an Order of Expunction will issue, and all criminal justice agencies and some private entities that have records of your offense are required to erase or return their records to the clerk within 12 months.
It’s important to note that this process may be complex and time-consuming, and it’s often recommended to hire an attorney experienced in expunction cases to guide you through it.
How long do I have to wait until I get an expunction in Texas?
The waiting period for expunction in Texas varies depending on the type of offense and the statute of limitations for the offense. For Class C misdemeanors, the waiting period is typically 180 days from the date of arrest. For Class B and A misdemeanors, it is usually one year, and for felonies, the waiting period is generally three years.
There is some leeway here. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to sway the prosecutor’s decision and have your record expunged sooner.
Waiver of Waiting Periods
In some instances, the waiting periods for expunction can be waived. The prosecutor must agree to the waiver. This decision is made by the District Attorney’s office in the case of a felony offense, and the County Attorney in the case of misdemeanors.
Individual circumstances can affect whether or not a waiver is granted. If a waiver is not granted, the limitations period of the offense governs the wait time. Always consult with expungement lawyers to understand your specific situation better.
How Much does an Expunction Cost?
The cost of an expunction of your criminal record in Texas can vary significantly based on several factors. These include a filing fee, attorney’s fees, and other administrative expenses. Filing fees are typically $500, but can be higher.
Additionally, criminal defense attorneys charge a fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 or more. These are estimated costs and actual expenses may vary depending on individual circumstances. It is recommended to consult with an expungement lawyer who can provide a more accurate estimate based on your specific case.
Sealing Juvenile Offenses
The process of sealing juvenile records in Texas is different than expunging adult criminal records. The first step is to determine if the juvenile is eligible to have his or her record sealed. Juvenile records may be sealed in Texas for cases where the individual was adjudicated, but has since maintained a clean record.
Upon meeting the eligibility criteria, a Petition to Seal Records should be filed in the juvenile court that handled the case. The court will then set a hearing to decide if the individual’s record can be sealed. Also, certain misdemeanor juvenile offenses will be sealed automatically.
Do I Qualify for a DWI Conviction Nondisclosure?
In Texas, a law has been enacted that allows for the non-disclosure of certain misdemeanor offenses, including Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) convictions.
This means that under specific conditions, individuals with a DWI conviction who received community supervision may petition the court to seal their criminal record even if they did not receive deferred adjudication.
To qualify for DWI conviction non-disclosure, certain criteria must be met. The individual must have had no prior or subsequent convictions, excluding class C misdemeanor traffic offenses. Likewise if you received deferred adjudication for your DWI, you are eligible for nondisclosure (not eligible for expunction.)
The waiting period to petition for non-disclosure varies. For those who successfully completed a term of probation or jail sentence, it’s two years if they had an IID installed in their vehicle for at least six months. Without the interlock device, the waiting period is five years.
Texas Expungement FAQs
Can I get an expunction right away?
No, you generally can’t get an expunction right away. After your case is resolved, there’s typically a waiting period before you can file for expunction. The length of this waiting period varies.
Upon successful approval of an expunction petition, governmental agencies are given a specified 12 months to destroy or return the records. Certain governmental agencies will act more quickly, but there are no guarantees before 12 months.
I was arrested but never charged. Do I still need an expunction?
Yes, in some cases. Even if you were arrested but never charged, the arrest record still exists and can be seen on your criminal history. An expunction can remove this arrest record, ensuring that the criminal record is literally destroyed.
Once my record is expunged, can I legally deny that I was ever arrested?
Yes, in most cases. Once your record is expunged in Texas, it’s treated as if the arrest never occurred. You’re allowed to legally deny the incident in most situations.
However, there are specific circumstances, such as in court or in some types of employment applications, where you may need to disclose this information. It’s advisable to consult with a legal professional to clarify your rights and obligations.
Which records are NOT eligible for expungement?
Not all records are eligible for expungement in Texas. Generally, if there was a guilty verdict or no contest plea, you are ineligible for expungement. This includes felony convictions, DUI/DWI charges, and family violence offenses.
In addition, cases resulting in deferred adjudication or probation cannot be expunged, but may be eligible for non-disclosure orders. Only if your case was ultimately dismissed are you eligible for expunction of your record.
It can be tricky to determine whether criminal charges can be expunged. Always consult with criminal defense attorneys first to understand your options better.
I have multiple criminal charges. Do I need to file a new petition for each one?
If the criminal records are all in the same county, you do not need to file multiple petitions. However, if there is a criminal charge in another county, it would require a separate expunction petition.
Also, if you have deferred adjudications that are eligible to be sealed, the nondisclosure petition would require a separate petition and an additional filing fee.
How do I check to see if the expunction was successful?
Once the court grants your petition for expunction, the relevant agencies are ordered to erase/destroy the expunged record of your arrest and any subsequent legal proceedings.
However, state agencies do make mistakes! To ensure the expunction of the criminal case was successful, you can request a copy of your criminal history from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
If the expunction was successful, the arrest record should not appear in your history. It may take some time for the record to be fully expunged, so consider waiting 6-8 months before checking. Always consult with your attorney to ensure all steps have been correctly undertaken.
See If You Qualify to Erase Your Criminal Record
At the law office of ATX Legal, our expungement lawyer can quickly determine if you are eligible for expunction or to have your record sealed. We understand Texas law and and can navigate the complex process of the expunction on your behalf. Don’t let past mistakes hinder your future – reach out to us today to see if we can help erase your criminal record.
Texas Criminal Attorney for Sealing or Expunging Criminal Records
Attorney Rob Chesnutt is a criminal defense attorney who has successfully sealed or expunged criminal records for dozens of clients. We work quickly to gather all required documents and typically file to have your criminal record expunged within one week. Call/text 512-677-5003 or fill out a contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.
CONTACT ATX LEGAL
505 West 12th Street, Suite 200 Austin Texas 78701