Criminal records are terrifying. They can seem like a persistent specter that follows you to job interviews, school applications, and may even limit housing options. Even if you were never convicted, an arrest record would still show up on background checks.
Thankfully, expungement law allows those who have been arrested or convicted of certain crimes to seal their criminal records. To better explain the intricacies of this law, we’ve put together this Texas expungement law FAQ.
Q: What Can Be Expunged?
Anyone who was arrested and acquitted found innocent, or had their case dismissed can apply for expungement. Misdemeanors are usually eligible for expungement as well, though you should check with an attorney if your record contains unusual charges.
Q: What Can’t Be Expunged?
Some violent crimes and crimes of endangerment can never be expunged. A few crimes that cannot be expunged include, Murder, any crime resulting in a sex offender registration, aggravated kidnapping (meaning with a weapon), domestic violence, and human trafficking.
Q: How Long Do I Have to Wait?
Every element of expungement has a different waiting period. Arrests and convictions, for example, are treated completely differently. A few examples of waiting periods include:
- Anyone arrested, but not charged must wait between six months and three years to file for expungement.
- Misdemeanor convictions resulting in a fine can apply immediately.
- Serious misdemeanor convictions have a two-year waiting period.
- Felony convictions have a five-year waiting period.
Q: Does Expungement Clear All Records?
This is an important distinction. Expungement does not destroy your criminal record; it only seals it away from the public. That means it is invisible from background checks and police officers. However, it does not remove mentions from social media or news outlets. These mentions may still appear on a background check for high-profile cases.
Q: How Can I Apply for Expungement?
To apply for expungement, you must first complete your mandatory waiting period. Once that is done, you can file a claim with the court and appear before a judge. Note that expungement laws are best left to the professionals. Filing and making appearances with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney will dramatically improve your chances of sealing your record.
Not sure if your criminal record is eligible for expungement? If you’d like an experienced San Antonio criminal defense attorney from LaHood Norton Law Group, PLLC to evaluate your record, please send us an email or call (210) 801-9400.