EXPUNCTION IN TEXAS PROVIDES FREEDOM FROM THE SHADOW OF THE PAST
Employers and landlords are very particular about a person’s criminal record. They use background checks to make important decisions. A clean criminal record speaks for itself. But how about those who have been placed under custodial or non custodial arrest? Or those who have been acquitted? Or those who have been pardoned? Will the shadow of the past, in the form of a criminal record in Texas, forever haunt their lives because of past mistake? For many people in those situations, the answer can be no.
Chapter 55 of The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Provides for what is called Expunction. Expunction (or Expungement) is a legal remedy available to qualified individuals to make all the criminal records of the petitioning individual unavailable. This involves the physical destruction of the criminal records such as tearing, shredding, burning and other manner to remove the records of a case from a general review. Expunction treats the criminal records as if they never existed.
While Expunction is a right to qualified individuals, it does not happen overnight or automatically. Expunction is a legal remedy that involves a legal process that must me initiated by the applicant or their attorney. It starts with filing a petition to the appropriate Court to order the records be expunged.
WHAT CRIMINAL RECORDS CAN BE EXPUNGED IN TEXAS
Records for an arrest for a crime that was never charged, records for conviction for Failure to Attend School, records for criminal charge that was ultimately dismissed or records for certain qualifying misdemeanor juvenile offenses, records for conviction of a minor for certain alcohol offenses, records for 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, records of conviction for a crime that was later acquitted by the trial court or the Criminal Court of Appeals or records of conviction for a crime that was later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the US President are eligible for expunction. But not all individuals having records enumerated above qualify to receive expunction. You are ineligible for expunction if you have a felony conviction on record five (5) years prior to the arrest that wished to be expunged. Those who have conviction of any crime other than a Class C misdemeanor are also not eligible for expunction. However, these rules are not absolute as there are exemptions to general rules.
An experienced expungement attorney can quickly guide a person through the eligibility requirements. If a person is not eligible for expungement in Texas, they may be eligible to have their Texas criminal record sealed by obtaining an order of non-disclosure, pursuant to Texas Government Code Government Code § 411.081, or by obtaining a pardon, which if granted, entitles the applicant to an expungement from the court.
A person interested in apply for a pardon can download information about it here: https://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/bpp/forms/FP%20App.pdf . More information about pardons in Texas can be found at http://www.pardon411.com/wiki/Texas_Pardon_Information.