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1.7 million workers who cost the economy $78 billion couldn’t find a job in 2014. Why? Because they carry one or more criminal convictions on their records, a problem with which 1 in 3 American adults can sympathize.
Getting convicted of a crime in Texas can ruin more than just your job prospects. Yet, there is good news for some offenders. Getting a crime expunged in Texas is a legal process that can keep employers and other bodies from seeing your full record.
Sound too good to be true? You aren’t alone in thinking so, which is why we wanted to create this guide to expunging misdemeanors and sealing other crimes in the Lonestar State.
Want to know more about expunction and how it can help you get your life back on track? Then keep reading for everything you need to know.
What is Expungement?
In Texas, expungement is the legal process of getting an offense removed from your criminal record. Through the process of expunction, the criminal offense is struck off and completely destroyed from your record.
Expunction makes it so that state agencies and private companies cannot lawfully access the expunged charge. If a prospective employer asks you about your criminal history, you are also legally allowed to deny the expunged crime.
Which Crimes are Available for Expunction in Texas?
If your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty, your crime is automatically eligible for expunction in Texas. As little as a few weeks after your trial, you can apply for an expunction. You can also receive an expunction years after the initial trial.
There are some crimes for which the state of Texas does not allow expunction. For example, kidnapping, murder, sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking must stay on your record.
Only Class C misdemeanors you weren’t officially convicted of are eligible for full expunction in Texas. What does it mean to be without an official conviction? The crime would have to be dismissed through deferred adjudication (see below).
This includes cases where formal charges were never filed, the charges were dismissed, a jury or court of appeals acquittal occurred, or the court issued a pardon.
How Long Does Getting a Crime Expunged Take?
If your case was acquitted or you were found not guilty, you can immediately file for expungement in Texas.
For acquittals, the state will waive your expunction fees. You will also have access to an expedited process, which will clear your criminal history within a matter of months.
If your case was not acquitted or you were found guilty, you must wait one full year to file for expunction.
Full expunctions can then take 60–90 days to take full effect. If you’re expecting a background check soon, an attorney can help get the expunction executed faster. Nondisclosure orders (see below) can take effect almost immediately.
How Much Does Expunction Cost?
If you were found not guilty or your case was acquitted, the court typically waives your fees for expunction. Otherwise, filing an application costs $600. You’ll also need to add on any legal fees you acquired during the process.
The good news is you can file an expunction application for multiple arrests at once. Each arrest must be eligible for expunction, of course.
Getting a Conviction Expunged in Texas
Getting a conviction expunged in Texas is a powerful legal process. It ensures that a conviction gets completely destroyed from your record. Having a cleaner record can improve your prospects for jobs, housing, and even credit cards.
If a Texas criminal court convicted you of a crime, here are two options for removing it from your record.
To get a crime fully expunged from your record after a conviction, you must complete a deferred adjudication or deferred disposition program.
A deferred adjudication or disposition program in Texas is available to felons and individuals with misdemeanors. The person must agree to a probationary period. For example, DWI/DUI convicts agree to a breath test device being installed in their vehicle.
Upon successful completion of probation, the person can apply either for a full expunction or an order of nondisclosure (see below). While the latter is available even to felons, only Class C misdemeanor convictions are available for the former process.
After conviction and completion of the deferred adjudication probationary period, you can file for expunction. You’ll have to attend a hearing for your expunction, which can take 30+ days to get scheduled after you file.
Once your petition for expunction is approved, your records must be destroyed. Sometimes, this can take up to 12 months.
Still, you don’t have to worry about agencies or companies being non-compliant— failing to destroy expunged records is itself a crime.
Orders of Nondisclosure
Sometimes, getting a full expunction is out of the question. Misdemeanor convictions and felonies you haven’t completed deferred adjudication for aren’t available for expunction.
In this case, you may be eligible for another legal process: an order of nondisclosure.
An order of nondisclosure in Texas means the nondisclosed record is inaccessible to most people and organizations. Specifically, an employment background check with a non-government entity will not show a nondisclosed criminal charge.
Often, you can get an order of nondisclosure for a first-time offense. This is especially true if the crime occurred when you were still a minor. Again, this doesn’t include violent crimes, kidnapping, or stalking.
Expunge Your Texas Criminal Record
Getting a crime expunged is Texas’ way of protecting you against mistakes you’ve made in the past. As long as you know what to expect from the process, expunction can help you finally get the job of your dreams.
Christopher Gore, Attorney at Law, can help.
Looking for an attorney to assist with your expunction application, even during these trying times? Schedule a virtual consultation today and let us help you win your case!