A criminal record can affect your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, or exclude you from other opportunities in life. Even if you were never convicted of a crime, an arrest on your record can cause someone to question your character if they decide to look into your background. It isn’t fair, especially if you’ve taken steps to change your life, but it’s reality.
Expungement can be a good way to get a “clean slate” and remove criminal records. When a record is expunged, it is destroyed. No one looking into your background will be able to tell you were ever arrested. But can you get your criminal record expunged on your own? Or do you need the help of a lawyer?
What Records Can Be Expunged?
It’s important to realize that not all criminal records can be expunged in Texas. You might qualify for expungement if you were acquitted of a crime, or the charges were dropped. If you were arrested but never charged with a crime, you can request an expungement. If you served time for a misdemeanor and it was your first arrest, you might also qualify to have the case expunged from your record.
If you were arrested for a more serious crime, there can be a waiting period of several years before you can request an expungement. If you go through the waiting period with no further criminal charges, your records might be eligible for expungement. Some records of serious crimes cannot be removed, regardless of the circumstances.
How Do You Expunge a Record in Texas?
To get a record expunged in Texas, you need to file paperwork with the court. Then, you will need to appear for a hearing. Your hearing date will typically be set 30 days or so after you file.
If your petition is approved, the court will destroy paper documents relating to the expunged record and remove information about your arrest from their digital files. This can take up to a year, so patience is important during the process.
Do You Need a Lawyer’s Help for Expungement?
Although some people have straightforward and easy cases, most people who need records expunged should get help from a lawyer. The process can be complicated, depending on your situation. A lawyer will ensure that you follow all the necessary steps and help you understand your rights throughout the process. The court can deny your request, so it’s important to set yourself up for success.
Getting an expungement can help you start fresh and move on with your life. If you think you might qualify, give our offices a call at 214-575-8300. Our Dallas and Houston expungement attorneys can help you understand your eligibility and walk you through the process.