How Does Expungement Work in Texas?
Let’s be honest: people who have criminal histories can and do change their lives, trading their old behaviors for better ones. However, their criminal records can haunt them when they apply for a job or bank loan, or wish to volunteer in their children’s school. The good news is, in certain cases, criminal records can be removed, or to use the legal term, expunged.
If you have a criminal record and are seeking a fresh start, you can preserve your future by retaining an experienced expungement lawyer in Texas. At Kimbrough Legal, PLLC, we often secure expungements for our clients, clearing their criminal records and paving the way for a prosperous life.
Keep reading as our team at Kimbrough Legal, PLLC, explains what an expungement means and the types of cases that qualify.
What Does Expungement Mean?
In Texas, an expungement is called an expunction. If a judge grants an expunction to one of our clients, it means the court is removing the arrests, charges, or convictions from a perpetrator’s record.
What Is the Benefit of an Expungement or Expunction?
In most circumstances, an expungement also allows clients to deny ever getting arrested, charged, or convicted, including on:
- Employment applications
- Rental applications
- Welfare applications
A client who successfully petitions the court for an expunction must, however, disclose the underlying arrests, charges, or convictions if testifying under oath in a criminal proceeding.
What Records Are Deleted After an Expunction?
Some of the records that a judge may expunge include:
- An arrest record without a charge
- A dismissed criminal charge
- Some misdemeanor juvenile offenses
- An arrest, charge, or conviction erroneously recorded due to identity theft
- Booking photos, fingerprints, and jail records
- Police reports and case records
How to Get My Record Expunged
Although the Texas expunction process is less complicated than a trial or a plea deal, it still calls for professional legal representation due to the significant impact an expungement can have on a client’s future. Follow the steps below if you wish to seek an expunction (expungement) in Texas.
Step #1: Hire an Experienced Expungement Attorney
If a judge denies an expungement petition, it all but closes the door on any hope of removing a criminal record. Thus, by retaining legal counsel, petitioners are in a better position to secure expungements and move on with their lives.
All clients who want to eliminate their criminal history will likely search for “expungement lawyers near me.” Be sure to include our team at Kimbrough Legal, PLLC, on your short list to interview.
Step #2: File a Petition for Expunction of Records
When expunging a criminal record, your attorney will first file a Petition for Expunction of Records under the relevant article of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The petition will contain:
- Petitioner’s identifying information
- Date of arrest
- Charges brought, if any
- Case number
- Current disposition of the case
- Grounds for expungement
- Request for hearing and notification of police agencies
- Request for the destruction of records
- Request for permission to deny the arrest, charges, or conviction
- Request for permission to deny the expungement proceeding
Step #3: Expunction Hearing
Once the court has sent notice to respondent police agencies, the court will hold a hearing to allow the respondents to challenge the petition. In most cases, the respondents will neither reply to the notice nor appear at the hearing. Regardless, if the petitioner meets all of the requirements for an expungement, the judge will likely order the expungement over any objections from the police.
Step #4: Submit an Order for Expunction
Once the court grants a client’s Petition for Expungement of Records, it will issue the Order for Expunction that the expungement lawyer drafted. Then, the order must go to all agencies that have records regarding the expunged criminal offense. At that point, the agencies will send the records to the court for shredding. If the records are digital or otherwise can’t be sent to the court, the agency must destroy them.
What Types of Cases Can Be Expunged?
Only a few types of cases will qualify for an expungement. The following circumstances may possibly lead to an expungement:
- Dismissal based on completion of mental health or veteran’s treatment court program
- Dismissal based on completion of pretrial intervention program
- Pardon or other relief based on actual innocence
- Expungement requested by close relative of deceased defendant
- Prosecutor recommends expungement
- Juvenile offenses
Note that the court views many crimes as too heinous for an expungement. Sometimes, even the least serious cases will not qualify for an expungement because of some other activity on the part of the client, such as absconding while on bail.
Are Criminal Records Ever Truly Expunged?
Depending how much press an arrest or trial receives, it may prove impossible for an expungement to remove all traces of the criminal proceedings from the public eye. However, as far as the State of Texas is concerned, with an expungement, a client’s arrest, charges, and convictions never happened unless the client takes the stand in a criminal hearing.
Upon issuance of an expungement order, notice goes to federal repositories of criminal records. Federal courts sometimes resist state-issued expungement orders and maintain a non-public record of state arrests, charges, and convictions.
Kimbrough Legal, PLLC: Expungement Lawyer in Austin and San Antonio, Texas
Lay the framework for a freer, fuller life by petitioning for an expunction (expungement) in Texas. At Kimbrough Legal, PLLC, our expungement lawyers, paralegals, and support staff all understand what kind of relief an expunction can bring. With offices in Austin and San Antonio, we serve both Travis County and Bexar County.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Kimbrough Legal, PLLC
5920 W. William Cannon Dr., Bldg 3, Ste 400
Austin, TX 78749