When someone is arrested in Austin, the police immediately begin creating records. These can include photos and videos, interview records, and any evidence the police may gather in pursuit of a suspect or solving a crime. For the person arrested, this may also include their employment records, details about their finances, or interviews with others about their personal and professional life.
Even if you are cleared of the charges, these records still exist in the system and could be a matter of public record. Many people do not wish others to see their personal information, especially if they have been exonerated. Expungement removes all these records, destroying them and all records of your arrest.
A Texas record expunged lawyer from Jason English Law can help you learn if you qualify for an expungement and explain the procedure. Contact the firm today at (512) 454-7548 for a consultation.
What Is a Criminal Expungement?
If your case is dismissed, the associated records are not automatically deleted. They are still on file with the police department and possibly private databases, such as companies that purchase personal information and publish it online. The arrest also appears in any background check an employer or the military may run. A criminal expungement, also referred to as an expunction since the September 2021 revision of the Texas Criminal Code, is a judicial order that requires a police department to destroy certain records associated with the arrest of the petitioning individual.
Only a court-issued Order of Expunction can force a private company or the arresting police department to remove the record from its database. To obtain an Order of Expunction, you must petition a Texas criminal judge to grant one. Once a judge signs it and you obtain the Order of Expunction, you may legally deny that you have been arrested. Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure outlines the process to petition for and receive an expunction.
Who Qualifies for an Expungement in Texas?
Individuals who have been convicted of a crime, whether through pleading guilty as part of a plea arrangement or because they have been found guilty in a jury trial, are unlikely to qualify for an expungement. Even if the individual in question was only sentenced to probation, instead serving a sentence in jail or prison, they likely will not qualify for expungement.
Per the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, there are a couple of exceptions in which someone who pled guilty or was convicted of a crime may qualify for a records expungement:
- The individual was convicted of a DUI.
- The individual was convicted of an Unauthorized Carry of a Weapon (UCW) prior to September 1, 2021.
- The individual pled guilty to a Class C Misdemeanor, and the case was dismissed.
- The individual completed a Pretrial Diversion Program.
- The individual was convicted of an age-related offense.
Persons who were arrested but not convicted or did not plead guilty, or who meet one of the other qualifications, could be eligible for a criminal records expungement. However, the process is complicated, and each case is unique. A record expunged lawyer from Jason English Law may be able to help you evaluate your circumstances and determine your eligibility.
Why Would I Want an Expungement?
Even if you were exonerated for a crime or your case was dismissed, there may still be some people who harbor animosity toward you simply for being arrested. Many people seek a Texas expungement because they want to pass a background check for a job, because they wish to enlist in the military, or because they need a security clearance.
Other times, the reasons for an expungement may be more personal. Some individuals may not wish the details of an arrest or any evidence the police gathered to be accessible to a curious person. Others may not want to be pre-judged if a police officer runs their driver's license, or have a potential landlord see the arrest record
Do I Need a Lawyer To Expunge My Record?
You are not legally required to have an record expunged lawyer file a petition to expunge your arrest record. However, you only have one opportunity to ask for an expungement, so if you make a mistake filing the petition on your own or miss an important deadline, you likely will not get a second chance.
Each person's petition will be different, and the laws regarding it are complex. An experienced criminal defense lawyer, who has successfully petitioned for arrest expungements, may be able to provide legal guidance for a better outcome in your case.
How Long Does Expungement Take?
After an applicant file the Petition for Expungement, they may have to wait anywhere from 30-60 days to have a hearing before the judge. How quickly the hearing will be scheduled depends on whether there are any statutory notice requirements for the case and how long those must be posted.
Once the expungement is granted, an individual with an expunged record is immediately able to legally say that they have never been arrested. However, the Texas Department of Public Safety may not destroy all police records right away. Sometimes there is a backlog of claims, which can affect how long it will be until the records are actually destroyed.
How Much Does Expungement Cost?
The cost of a records expungement in Texas includes the fees paid to an attorney, if you choose to hire one. Attorney fees for a record expunged lawyer vary depending on how complex your case is and the lawyer's hourly rate or their rate for an expungement. Most attorneys will discuss their fee structure in your initial consultation. In addition to attorney's fees, you will be responsible for:
- Statutory fees
- Filing fees
The statutory fees and filing fees vary by county.
Do I Have To Disclose an Expunged Record?
Legally, you can say you have never been arrested if your records are expunged. An expungement means that when you fill out job or housing applications or are undergoing a background check, the record of your arrest and any related documentation will not appear. If you are under oath in a criminal proceeding, you must disclose that the record was expunged, but no other details are required.
Do You Need Help Having a Texas Criminal Record Expunged?
Expunging a criminal record in Texas can help you recover from a past mistake and start on a more successful future. Those who qualify for expungement of their records often discover it is a complicated and long process. That does not have to mean you cannot get your record expunged. If you believe your record can be expunged, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you through the process.