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Filing an Expunction in Texas

What is the process to get a case expunged? May 8, 2024

In Texas, an expunction is a legal process that allows a person to erase or remove records of an arrest, charge, or conviction from their criminal record. This process effectively "erases" the record, making it as though the arrest or charge never occurred. Expunctions are governed by Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Eligibility for Expunction:

To be eligible for an expunction in Texas, a person must meet certain criteria. Generally, a person may be eligible if:

1. The person was arrested but not charged with a crime, and the statute of limitations has expired.

2. The person was charged with a crime, but the charge was ultimately dismissed, they were acquitted, or they were convicted but later found to be actually innocent.

3. The person completed a pretrial diversion program for certain offenses.

4. The person was convicted but later received a pardon or a certificate of actual innocence.

Process for Expunction:

The process for expunction in Texas can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. However, a general timeline for the process may include the following steps:

1. Petition for Expunction: The first step in the expunction process is to file a petition for expunction with the court. The petition must include specific information about the arrest or charge, including the date of the arrest, the name of the arresting agency, and the case number.

2. Service of Process: Once the petition is filed, the petitioner must serve a copy of the petition on the district attorney or prosecutor's office that handled the case. The prosecutor may file a response to the petition and may object to the expunction if they believe the petitioner is not eligible.

3. Expunction Hearing: If the prosecutor does not object, the court may schedule a hearing to consider the petition. At the hearing, the petitioner may present evidence to support their request for expunction.

4. Court Order: If the court finds that the petitioner is eligible for expunction, it will issue an order directing the relevant agencies to expunge the records related to the arrest or charge.

5. Expunction of Records: Once the court issues the expunction order, the relevant agencies, including law enforcement agencies, the prosecutor's office, and the court clerk, will expunge the records related to the arrest or charge. This process can take several weeks to complete.

6. Notification of Expunction: Once the records have been expunged, the petitioner will receive a notice of expunction confirming that the records have been erased.

Benefits of Expunction:

There are several benefits to obtaining an expunction in Texas, including:

1. Employment Opportunities: Having a clean criminal record can make it easier to find a job, as many employers conduct background checks as part of the hiring process.

2. Housing Opportunities: Some landlords conduct background checks on prospective tenants, and having a clean criminal record can make it easier to rent an apartment or house.

3. Professional Licensing: Certain professions require a clean criminal record for licensing, and an expunction can help clear the way for obtaining professional licenses.

4. Peace of Mind: Perhaps most importantly, an expunction can provide peace of mind, knowing that the records of an arrest or charge have been erased and will not appear on future background checks.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, an expunction in Texas is a legal process that allows a person to erase or remove records of an arrest, charge, or conviction from their criminal record. The process can be complex and time-consuming, but the benefits can be significant. If you believe you may be eligible for an expunction, it is advisable to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the process.