Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. After all, we’re only human. Some of us have had the bad luck to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or to grow up in a bad neighborhood where we’re surrounded by poor influences. Unfortunately, when people have a momentary lapse in judgement, it can get them into a lot of trouble regardless of how or where they were brought up.
For some, a mistake can lead to an arrest, criminal charges, and a conviction, which results in a criminal record. Criminal records are no laughing matter. They stigmatize a person, often affecting their housing and employment opportunities for years to come. It doesn’t take long for people with new criminal records to ask, “Is there anything that can be done to seal or erase my criminal record?”
Most of the information on criminal records cannot be removed; however, under certain circumstances, Texas law does allow information about a person’s arrest, criminal charge or conviction to be permanently removed from their criminal record. Once this happens, the individual can lawfully deny that the incident occurred. This is called an expunction.
Which Records Qualify for an Expunction?
The following types of records qualify for an expunction in Texas:
- An arrest that did not lead to a criminal charge.
- A criminal charge that ended up being dismissed.
- Certain misdemeanor juvenile offenses.
- Certain convictions for alcohol offenses committed by minors.
- A juvenile’s conviction for failing to attend school.
- Arrests, charges and convictions against identity theft victims for which the actual perpetrator was arrested, charged or convicted for the crime.
- Convictions for crimes that were later acquitted.
- Convictions for crimes that resulted in a pardon.
If your records qualify, you are not automatically guaranteed an expunction. You may be disqualified for an expunction if any of the following is true: 1) you received deferred adjudication, 2) you received probation, 3) you were convicted of a felony within five years of the event you are trying to get expunged, or 4) the event was a part of a criminal episode, or 5) you were convicted for another crime as a part of the same criminal episode.
One last thing: You cannot apply for an expunction for a felony that was dismissed if the statute of limitations for the crime has not expired yet.