A criminal record affects everything from where you live to how you pay for college. Convictions and arrests alike can hold you back from the best opportunities in life.
In theory, maintaining criminal records helps keep the public safe. It allows employers to screen for those who might defraud their company or put their customers at risk. However, many times, criminal records simply serve to hold back those who have already learned their lesson and repaid their debt to society.
Sometimes, it is possible for people to seal their criminal records. In Texas, this process is expunction. Learning about expunction can benefit anyone who has an arrest or criminal charge in their past.
How expunction works in Texas
The expunction process is relatively straightforward. Those with qualifying blemishes on their criminal record submit a petition to the courts that oversaw the charges or had jurisdiction related to a specific arrest.
After judicial review, the state can destroy or seal the records pertaining to certain arrests and criminal charges. Notice is sent to agencies who may have an interest in the case. If the courts approve the petition after careful review, they grant the expunction.
Who qualifies for an expunction in Texas?
Expunction isn’t available to those with serious offenses or guilty pleas. The state strictly limits what charges someone can remove from their record via expunction. If you qualified for deferred adjudication, you could petition for the removal of the records of a Class C misdemeanor.
Any offense that goes through standard criminal proceedings and involves a conviction or guilty plea will not qualify for expunction in Texas. However, if someone got arrested and the state didn’t charge them or if their case didn’t result in a conviction, expunction is an option. Those who have the charges against them dismissed and those who secure an acquittal or pardon can apply for expunction.
Applicants who qualify have to wait before requesting an expunction, even without a conviction. The soonest someone can petition is after 180 for Class C misdemeanors. Class A and B misdemeanors have a waiting period of a year, and felonies require applicants to wait at least three years.
Familiarizing yourself with the expunction process could help you put a criminal record behind you and move on with your life.