Houston Expunction Attorney
"Clearing Your Record" in Texas - Expunctions & Orders of Nondisclosure
Despite numerous myths about "clearing your record" or "cleaning your record" there are only a few procedures for doing so in the State of Texas, the most common being the "Expunction" and the "Order of Nondisclosure" - both of which are only available in limited circumstances. The other avenues for relief are a pardon by the executive branch or a writ of habeas corpus to undo your original sentence, both of which are even more rare and difficult to successfully pursue. Unfortunately, there are many services advertised on the internet offering to "clear your record" appearing to promise results that simply aren't available under Texas law. The truth is typically in the fine print. Be wary of geeks bearing gifts.
Criminal Records May Survive the Case
A criminal record contains information regarding a person's arrest, their charges, the results of any investigations, trial information and the outcome of their case. Any person arrested for a misdemeanor, felony, or federal offense may have a criminal record. Even if the case is dismissed or the individual is found not-guilty of the charges, a record of the case will still exist. Criminal records are kept by the police, the sheriff's department, the court, the prosecution's office and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Information regarding your case is also stored in state and national databases. Criminal case information can also be accessed by employers, lenders, property owners, and schools when conducting background checks. These records may continue to exist until they are destroyed or sealed by court order.
Criminal Record Expunctions in Houston
What most states call "Expungements" Texas calls "Expunctions." To experienced Texas expunction lawyers, calling an expunction an expungement is almost as sacrilegious as putting beans in chili. Expunctions of state criminal records in Texas are governed by Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. It is basically a lawsuit to have the records resulting from the arrest destroyed - in, other words, to "clear your record." In the most common situations, a criminal record can be erased, also called an expunction. If you have a criminal record, you may qualify for expunction if -
- They went to trial and were acquitted;
- They were pardoned;
- They completed pre-trial intervention; or
- The charges were dismissed because of fraud, lack of probable cause, or similar circumstances; or
- The Charges were dismissed and
- Unless it was a Class C Misdemeanor, there was no court ordered community supervision (probation); and
- The statute of limitations has expired
Notice completing a "deferred adjudication" is not listed above. There is different procedure for people who have successfully completed a "deferred" discussed below.
Having your criminal record expunged can have a dramatic impact on your life and free you from the stigma of past legal proceedings. There is a great deal of misinformation on the internet by companies offering to "clear your record." Texas law is very clear about who is eligible for an expunction and who isn't. Additionally, many counties have their own policies and procedures about how expunctions are handled that an experienced lawyer will be familiar with to streamline and expedite the process to the extent possible. That is why you should contact a Houston criminal defense attorney to find out about the local expunction process and whether or how your criminal record can be erased.
Orders of Nondisclosure in Houston
Persons who have successfully completed "deferred adjudication" community supervision in Texas, may be eligible to petition for an Order of Nondisclosure. An Order of Nondisclosure essentially "seals" the criminal history and records, removing them from the public sphere. However they will remain available to numerous government agencies. It's not an expunction, but it may be the next best thing. The eligibility requirements and process are stated in Texas Government Code Section 411.081. While most people who have finished their deferred adjudications successfully are eligible, certain types of individuals are not (ex. registered sex offenders). For others, there may be a waiting period of two years (certain misdemeanors) or five years (all eligible felonies)..
Why Hire a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Law Office of Q. Tate Williams, PC, is an experienced criminal defense firm that has helped many clients obtain expunctions or orders of nondisclosure. My name is Tate and I know from years of helping people like you the hardships that can result from an arrest, even if you were found not-guilty of the charges or your case was dismissed. I can review your record to determine if you qualify for expunction or order of nondisclosure, and assist you with the process.
We generally do not charge additional legal fees for handling meritorious petitions for orders of non-disclosure or expunctions arising from cases in which we were retained as the attorney of record through final disposition of the original criminal case. The client, however, must pay the filing fee. It is our pleasure to assist clients whose cases we have successfully concluded or who have successfully completed a deferred adjudication to take this matter out of the public's view. Contact a Houston criminal defense lawyer to find out about an expunction or order of non-disclosure and if you quality to have your criminal record erased or sealed.