Expunging a Felony in Texas: An Overview of the Process
A felony criminal record can make it difficult to get a loan, an apartment, or even a job. Even without a conviction, a past or current felony arrest has the potential and almost certainly will cause serious legal and personal problems. Fortunately, in Texas, there are options available to some that help either erase or seal a person’s criminal record.
An expunction allows a person to have a fresh start. It was designed for individuals who have been wrongly arrested or charged with a criminal offense. If granted, an expunction allows a person to deny that their arrest ever happened in the first place. Further, all government records of the arrest and the prosecution file that followed are completely destroyed.
This raises an important question: What criminal records can be expunged in Texas? In this article, our Galveston expunction attorneys explain what you need to know about the expunction process in Texas.
Felony Charges Without a Finding of Guilt Can Often Be Expunged
The ability to have your criminal record expunged is a creation of statute; meaning, a person does not have a constitutional right to have their record expunged. For this reason, to be eligible, a person must satisfy all the requirements set out in the expunction statute. With limited exceptions, you cannot get a felony expunged if you were convicted of the charge. However, if your felony charge did not lead to a conviction, you may be eligible for an expunction. Additionally, if there was a conviction but that case was later reversed, you may be able to get an expunction and satisfy the requirements as set out in the statute. Specifically, you may be able to get misdemeanor or felony records expunged in Texas if:
- The felony charge was dropped or dismissed without action;
- You went to trial and were acquitted of the offense;
- You were convicted of the charge, but later found to be innocent by a court; or
- You were pardoned of the offense.
Please note – if charges were dropped or if the case was never brought forward, you can only petition for an expunction after the statute of limitations or relevant waiting period has expired.
Alternative Option: Petition for Non-Disclosure
As was mentioned, an expunction erases a person’s criminal record. While it is the best option when it is available, it is not the only option. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be eligible to petition for a non-disclosure of your criminal records – even if you are not eligible to apply for an expunction. A non-disclosure is simply the sealing of a criminal record. This operates much like an expunction, but it has one key difference – with a non-disclosure, your criminal records are not destroyed, so they still may be seen by any agent of the government. However, the public will not be able to access the information. In effect, this helps many people who, for example, are trying to get a job or an apartment because prospective employers or apartment agencies cannot access the criminal records and thus, will not use the information against you. Felony and misdemeanor cases may be eligible for a non-disclosure, but as with an expunction, there are specific requirements that must be met.
We Can Help You Understand Your Options for Expungement
Navigating the expunction/non-disclosure process in Texas can be especially confusing because the law is constantly changing on the issue. If you are trying to understand your options, our Galveston criminal defense attorneys are more than happy to review your case and walk you through the expunction or non-disclosure process. We will let you know if you are eligible for either of these options – and if so, we will help you take action to get your records erased or sealed.
Call Our Galveston, TX Felony Expungement Lawyers for Immediate Assistance
Mark A. Diaz is an experienced criminal defense attorney. We are committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients. If you have any questions or concerns about an expunction or a non-disclosure, we are to offer guidance and support. To set up a no-fee, no-obligation assessment of your case, please contact our law firm today at (409) 515-6170. With our law office located in Galveston, we represent clients throughout the region.