By: Beltz Law Firm
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Do You Qualify For An Expunction In Texas?
Lawyer For Expunction In Texas
If you are considering an expunction to seal criminal records in the past, there are certain requirements that must be met before you will qualify. Expunctions are a limited remedy that allows for the sealing and/or destruction of certain criminal records.
Records Eligible For Expunction
The following records are eligible for expunction in Texas:
- An arrest for a crime that was never charged
- A criminal charge that was ultimately dismissed
- Certain qualifying misdemeanor juvenile offenses
- Conviction of a minor for certain alcohol offenses
- Conviction for Failure to Attend School
- Arrest, charge or conviction on a person’s record due to identity theft by another individual that was actually arrested, charged or convicted of the crime;
- Conviction for a crime that was later acquitted by the trial court or the Criminal Court of Appeals
- Conviction for a crime that was later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the US President.
Not all individuals with records eligible for expunction above qualify to receive an expunction. The Court will not grant an expunction to adults who have received deferred adjudication or probation or who have been convicted of a felony within five years of the arrest the person is seeking to have expunged. The Court will also not consider expunction if the offense is part of a “criminal episode” and the applicant for the expunction either has charges pending for a different crime that occurred during that same episode or the person was convicted of a crime that occurred during that same alleged episode. Finally, a person cannot file a petition seeking expunction of a felony charge that has been dismissed if the statute of limitations for the crime subject to the dismissal has not yet expired. The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the state or county has to prosecute an action against a person after that person has been arrested
for an offense. The statute of limitations is different depending on the crime, but most are at least three years.
Applying For An Expunction In Texas
The requirements for filing an expunction are contained in The Code Of Criminal Procedure Chapter 55. The first step in gaining an expunction is to
file a Petition for Expunction with the district court requesting that the court grant an Order for Expunction. A basic form for both the Petition for Expunction and Order for Expunction are included at the end of this pamphlet. As with any legal proceeding, errors in following procedure can have serious consequences. Therefore, it is always advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney. The person applying for the expunction, known as the Petitioner, will have to prepare and file the Petition or hire an attorney to do so. The Petition should include certain personal identifying information of the Petitioner, the offense charged, when the arrest occurred, when the alleged offense occurred, the name of the arresting agency and a list of all of the agencies or facilities that may have a record of the arrest.
If the offense was charged, the Petition should also contain the cause number for the case, the name of the court, how the charge was resolved (i.e. dismissed, no billed by the grand jury or acquitted) and the date the charge was resolved. The Petition must be verified, meaning that you must have it notarized when it is signed. Finally, the Petition should contain a blank “notice of hearing” so that the court can set a hearing on the issue.
After completing the Petition, it will need to be filed with the proper court. Whether the Petition should be filed in municipal, county or district court will depend on the level of the offense. If the offense was charged, then the Petition will most likely need to be filed in the same Court that was assigned to the case when it was originally charged.
After the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing and send notice of the hearing to all applicable agencies and facilities, known as Respondents. After the notice has been properly sent, the court will conduct a hearing to allow the Respondents an opportunity to contest the expunction. However, if the Petitioner meets all of the necessary requirements, the court will grant the expunction.
After the court grants the expunction, the Petitioner will need to present an Order for Expunction to the court for the judge’s signature. The court will likely expect the Petitioner to have an Order drafted and ready for the judge to sign at the hearing on the expunction. The signed Order must then be submitted to any and all agencies or organizations that may have records or files relating to the expunged offense. The records will then either be deleted or returned to the court clerk pursuant to the court’s Order for Expunction.