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Getting an Expunction in Texas

An Order of Expunction is the only way to entirely remove records of an arrest from publicly availability. You should hire a criminal attorney to draft a Petition for an Expunction because you only have one opportunity to get it, and if done incorrectly, then not only is it a waste of both time and money, but also you may never be able to entirely remove the records. Expunctions can be technical, and every petition is different. Do not use a form to obtain your Expunction.

Our clients typically want an expunction because they want to clear their record to pass a background check for a job. Others want to clear their record for more personal reasons. If you were wrongly arrested, you probably would not want that case to prevent you from getting a job or allow the public to look you up on the internet and find out about it. The only way to permanently remove an arrest from your record is through an expunction attorney. If you successfully obtain an expunction, you can legally say that you have never been arrested.

Do you need to obtain an Order of Expunction to erase your criminal record? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305.

Winning your criminal case in court is sometimes only the first half of your legal battle. If you have been successful in court, and your case has been dismissed or you have won an acquittal through trial, then you may be eligible for an Expunction to keep the arrest record and all other records of criminal court proceedings out of the public eye. Our expunction attorneys can draft your Petition for Expunction if you meet the expunction eligibility requirements.

An expunction is the strongest legal mechanism available to protect your reputation through the court system after a successful outcome in a criminal case. Remember that even if you win in court, your record is not sealed from the public. Anyone will be able to look you up and find out that you were once arrested, what the charge was and any other court documents and records related to that arrest. If you want to keep this information out of the public record, then you will want to get an Order of Expunction. We can help you do that.

What does Expunction and Expungement mean?

An expunction is a judicial order that requires certain records relating to an arrest to be destroyed or sent back to the District Clerk for destruction. An expungement is simply a different spelling. The process to receive and expunction and the eligibility qualifications for it were created by the Texas state legislature and put into law at Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Many people refer to expunctions as a way to “seal” their records, but this is the incorrect word to describe Expunctions because “record sealing” is used in the law to describe juvenile record sealing, which is entirely different from Expunctions.

It is important to note that records relating to your arrest are not automatically removed from any public or private database (including the databases of companies who sell your data and post it online). An arrest will remain in the public record and show up in pre-employment background checks and online database searches until you have received an Order of Expunction and the company or government agency has been removed the record from its database.

After receiving an expunction, you are allowed by state law to deny that you had ever been arrested, even on employment applications.1

Can I expunge my record? Am I eligible for an Expunction?

In order to be eligible for an expunction, you must not have been convicted (or your conviction must have been overturned in a particular way). You are considered convicted whether you were found guilty by a judge or a jury. It does not matter whether you stood trial or plead guilty or no contest: if a judge found you guilty after a guilty plea or no contest plea, then you have been convicted. If a jury found you guilty after a trial, then you are convicted.

One exception to this is for guilty pleas in a Class C Misdemeanor when the case was ultimately dismissed. Learn more details about this expunction eligibility scenarios

If you did not get convicted after you were arrested, you may be eligible for an expunction. In order to do this, you need to obtain a court order to have the arrest records destroyed. You can then legally deny the arrest ever occurred, even on an employment application.1 You may be entitled to an expunction if your case was dismissed, if it was no-billed by a grand jury, if you were acquitted (or found “not guilty”) at trial, if someone else was arrested using your name without your permission, or if you were convicted but later pardoned. See a more detailed discussion of expunction eligibility

You are strongly encouraged to hire a lawyer to handle your expunction because you only get one chance to do it. If you want to clear your criminal record, you should make sure to do it right. We keep up with the latest law related to expunctions as well as the most innovative technologies involved with the sale and distribution of public arrest record documents to private companies. Please call us at (888) 239-9305 to learn more about expunctions or to schedule your free consultation with our expunctions attorney.

How much does an Expunction cost?

The total cost of an expunction is the combination of the statutory fees, the filing fees and your attorney’s fees. Attorneys’ fees vary depending on the complexity of the case, and the statutory and filing fees are fixed but vary slightly depending on the county in which you have to file.

What is the waiting period for an Expunction?

A waiting period is usually required before filing a petition for expunction. After filing the petition, it may take up to sixty days to get a petition for expunction to be heard in court before a judge depending on statutory notice requirements and how quickly your criminal defense attorney works.

Immediately after the order is granted, you may deny the arrest on employment applications. However, it can take the Texas Department of Public Safety a few weeks or even months to destroy your records after an expunction is granted, so you should get started on the process as soon as possible. Do not wait until the last minute if you need a record removed for a job application.

Who grants Expunctions?

If you qualify for an expunction, then in most cases you have an absolute legal right to have the records of your arrest and prosecution deleted and destroyed. A judge must sign off on the Expunction, but if you meet the eligibility criteria, then the judge does not have legal right to deny the Petition. However, sometimes expunctions are discretionary. And in most cases, the district attorney will review the petition and offer the court its opinion. For this reason, an expunction attorney usually will talk to the district attorney in advance to determine whether anything needs to be worked out before the hearing date.

If I received probation, can I get an Expunction?

Any conviction will disqualify you from an expunction, including a “straight” probation sentence, except for DUI and other age-related alcohol offenses. You are also not eligible for an expunction if you received deferred adjudication for an offense, unless that offense was a Class C misdemeanor. However, if you have received probation, you may still be eligible for an order of nondisclosure. You may also qualify to apply for judicial clemency if you received a probation sentence. Learn more information about Judicial Clemency

If you were convicted, plead guilty, or plead no contest, then your arrest may not be able to be expunged. You also may not be able to expunge your record if you jumped bail or violated the terms of probation.

If I plead guilty, can I get an Expunction?

You are not eligible to have your arrest expunged if you were ultimately convicted, whether after a guilty plea, a no contest plea or trial unless you are pardoned by the governor of the state of Texas. A no contest plea has the same impact as a guilty plea in Texas, and you will not be able to expunge your record if the judge found you guilty unless you are pardoned.

Do deferred prosecution cases qualify for Expunction?

“Deferred prosecution” refers to a pre-trial diversion program. Deferred prosecution is only available through a plea bargain and results in a dismissal. If you successfully complete the program and your case is dismissed, then you do qualify for expunction. Deferred prosecution is entirely different from deferred adjudication. Deferred adjudication is a type of probation.

Do deferred adjudication dismissals qualify for Expunction?

You do not qualify for an expunction if your arrest resulted in a deferred adjudication dismissal unless you successfully completed deferred adjudication probation on a Class C Misdemeanor case. Dismissals obtained after a successful deferred adjudication probation for a Class A or B misdemeanor or felony are not eligible for an expunction. However, you may still be eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure. Orders of non-disclosure are similar to expunctions, but there are important limitations to orders of non-disclosure and differences between the two.

What is the difference between Expunction and Non-Disclosure?

Expunctions and Orders of Non-Disclosure are very similar, but there are important differences between the two. Both Expunctions and Orders of Non-disclosure are judicial orders that require the destruction of records relating to your arrest. But an Order of Expunction is a more powerful judicial order that can extend to a wider array of public and governmental agencies. If your arrest is expunged, the state’s attorneys are required to delete and destroy all record of the arrest. Non-disclosure seals the court records from the general public, but several governmental and semi-governmental agencies may retain copies of your arrest record.

One very important limitation here is that an order of non-disclosure does not change the status of your record for immigration purposes. The federal government immigration authorities consider a deferred addiction probation as a conviction even if your case was eventually dismissed and Texas law does not consider it a conviction

Eligibility rules are different as well for Orders of Non-disclosure. If you successfully completed deferred adjudication probation, your record may be eligible for an Order of Non-disclosure, but you will not be eligible for an Expunction.

If you qualify for an Expunction, then in most cases you have an absolute legal right to have the records of your arrest and prosecution deleted and destroyed. Non-disclosure is different from expunction in that regard. Judges have the authority to order non-disclosure if he or she believes that it would be in the best interest of justice to seal your record from the general public. Except under certain circumstance, judges are not required to grant non-disclosure to everyone that qualifies. Learn more about Orders of Nondisclosure


Legal References:

1 Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 55.03(2). Note, however, that 55.03(3) provides an exception to testimony under oath.