By: Mark Diaz
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Early Impacts From The New Texas Expunction Law
Most of us have made a mistake that caused negative consequences. Unfortunately, in some cases in Texas, one of those mistakes can lead to arrest, criminal charges, and even conviction. Unfortunately, most convictions cannot be removed from your record, but the law does allow an expunction in some cases.
Find out below the early effects of the new expunction law in Texas. Then, contact Galveston County criminal defense lawyers at Mark Diaz & Associates for legal assistance.
Update On Texas Expunction Law
The Texas legislature makes new laws and updates old ones often. For example, in the past, the expunction law was limited and only applied to certain people. The updated law may allow more people to petition the court for expunction.
While there could be more people qualifying for an expunction under the new law, the legal process of getting your record wiped clean is challenging. That is why it is wise to have a Galveston County criminal defense lawyer work on your expunction.
What Can Be Expunged Under Texas Law?
Reviewing the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to understand if the offense in question can be expunged is essential. Chapter 55 details the arrests and crimes that may be eligible for expungement.
It helps to remember that anyone in Texas who is convicted of an offense except for a Class C misdemeanor does not qualify for an expunction unless you have a pardon or an acquittal. You also cannot have a record expunged if the arrest stemmed from a probation violation or if you fled from the jurisdiction after posting bond.
- An arrest for a crime where you were never charged.
- A criminal charge that was dismissed later.
- Arrest if you were not charged when a case was not filed.
- Arrest where you were not charged.
- Arrest, charge, or conviction related to identity theft where someone else was later arrested, charged, and convicted.
- Conviction that was later acquitted by the court or the Court of Criminal Appeals.
- Crime conviction that the Governor or President pardoned.
Only some people with a qualifying record will qualify for an expunction. In many situations, you also cannot file for an expunction for a felony or misdemeanor that was dismissed if the statute of limitations has not expired.
Also, depending on the offense, there may be a waiting period for requesting an expunction. Assuming no charges were filed against you, you must wait out the waiting period based on the level of offense you were facing. For a Class C misdemeanor, the waiting period is 180 days. For Class A and B misdemeanors, the waiting period is one year. Lastly, for felony cases, the waiting period is three years.
Why Should You Get A Texas Record Expunged?
Getting a record expunged in Galveston County or elsewhere in Texas is a hassle. Why bother? A criminal record will follow you everywhere and affect your life. Some of the things you will have trouble with include:
- Qualifying for loans
- Getting a job
- Being admitted to college
- Owning firearms
Remember that the arrest can stay on your record even if you were never charged or convicted. For example, the arrest will appear if you apply for a job or rent a house or apartment.
Expunction Legal Process In Texas
In most cases, you need to start the expunction process by filing a petition with the district court in the county where the crime occurred. You are required to give information about yourself, the record you want to be deleted, and why you qualify.
The petition is signed under oath, which means the statements you provide are the same as legal testimony. Therefore, providing misleading or false information on these forms can lead to severe penalties. There also are several technical documents and other information you must provide with the petition, so following the guidelines is critical.
Once the petition is filed, the court gives you a hearing date for your case. Errors and omissions in your original petition and the resulting order for expunction can wreck your case. The judge can deny any expunction if there are problems with the petition and supporting documents. The judge can only accept the petition if you follow the procedure strictly during the hearing.
The state can object to your reasons for asking for an expunction. The state will fight the expunction if it believes you are not entitled to it. If the state of Texas opposes the expunction, it will make its argument at the hearing. The judge makes the final decision.
If the court allows the expunction to go ahead, the Order of Expungement is what you need to get the record erased with various agencies. You need to submit this document to every organization or agency with records about your case. They will either delete the record or send them to the court at a certain time. If they do not, there will be consequences with the court.
Pardons And Expunctions For Texas Marijuana Possession Cases
Last month, President Joe Biden announced there would be pardons for approximately 6,500 federal marijuana possession offenders. He urged governors across the country to do the same thing, but it does not appear this will happen in Texas.
A pardon and expunction will probably not happen for people charged and convicted of marijuana crimes in Texas or Galveston County. The federal pardon also will not apply to people accused of higher-level crimes, such as selling and distributing.
Criminal justice experts in Texas noted that the 6,500 people who will be pardoned at the federal level were convicted in the past. But they will not be totally cleared of their crimes. Instead, those 6,500 probably will only have their records cleared if the US government decides to add an expunction process.
In Texas, you can still be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for possessing up to two ounces of cannabis. This could result in 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Many Texans support decriminalization of marijuana possession, and there have been efforts to reduce penalties in the last two legislative sessions in Austin.
While no one has been pardoned in Texas or had their records expunged for past marijuana possession convictions, it is possible there could be lowered penalties for possession in the future. For example, many of the jail recommendations for marijuana possession could be waived in a future legislative session.
Talk to your criminal defense attorney if you have a marijuana possession charge on your record. They can advise you on removing the charge from your record.
Only Misdemeanors And Felonies Qualify For Expunctions
Remember that only misdemeanor and felony arrests can be expunged. Many people must realize they can also be charged with other crimes. For instance, contempt of court and probation and parole violations also can appear on your record. These are not new crimes. A contempt of court charge on your record does not qualify for an expunction because it is not a new crime. Rather, it is related to the crime that go you to court.
Other Options Besides an Expunction
Only some cases qualify for expunctions in Texas. However, you might qualify for other legal remedies. Another option is an order of nondisclosure. This process can seal or hide records of your criminal matter. If a nondisclosure case is successful, you can get an order that forces the parties to seal the documents that involve your case. You cannot make them delete the records, which is what an expunction is.
The nondisclosure does not delete the records but is concealed from public view. Only a limited number of agencies and law enforcement can see the documents. Even with the records only sealed, you will probably enjoy many benefits of an expunction. So, there are many benefits to this post-conviction relief option. Your criminal defense attorney will review the case and inform you if an expunction or nondisclosure is the better option.
Talk To A Galveston County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Were you convicted of a crime in Galveston County? Then, you know that it can hurt your life even after you serve your sentence and pay the fines. You could have difficulty finding a job, or renting an apartment, and it can even be hard to get a college loan.
However, you may be able to have your record expunged in some cases to negate the effects of the conviction. Mark Diaz & Associates can help, and we proudly serve Galveston, Tiki Island, Jamaica Beach, League City, Texas City, Alvin, Algoa, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, La Marque, Bayou Vista, Bacliff, Kemah, Clear Lake Shores, Bolivar Peninsula, Dickinson, and San Leon. Contact our Galveston County criminal defense lawyers now at (409) 515-6170.