Unfortunately, there is a stigma associated with people who have been charged with a crime of any kind. This is true even if the charges were ultimately dropped or the accused was acquitted at trial. Arrests and case information remain on a person’s criminal record for life in Texas unless they petition the court for an expungement.
Expungement is an important part of the legal system. It is used to remove case information from an individual’s criminal record. This can be incredibly important because employers, landlords, and other people in positions of authority often use a person’s criminal history when making decisions. However, expungement isn’t always a quick process, meaning that you could be dealing with the consequences of having a criminal record while the court carries out the expungement proceedings.
How Does Expungement Work?
Individuals who have an arrest on their record that is eligible for expungement (typically, a case that did not result in a conviction) must petition the court to begin the process. Some cases are eligible for expungement right away, while others have a waiting period that must take place before filing with the court. For some felony charges, this can be as long as five years.
Once the court has conducted a hearing and approved the expungement, the records will be destroyed. If you have a record expunged, you won’t have to worry about it showing up on a background check in the future. However, the court does not have to destroy the records right away.
How Long Does the Expungement Process Take?
An expungement can take a while, so it’s important to be patient and follow the court’s instructions carefully. This will make the process go smoothly and reduce the time you have to wait for your expungement.
The first step is filing, which initiates the expungement process. You will receive a hearing date after you file your petition, usually within 30 days.
After you attend your hearing, if your petition is approved, the court must destroy the records in question. This can take just a few weeks to six months or longer.
Do You Need the Help of a Lawyer?
If you want your expungement resolved as quickly as possible, then it’s a good idea to work with an experienced lawyer. Your attorney can file your petition for you and make sure the court has all the necessary documents at the proper time. Filing on your own can be a slower process since you will be unfamiliar with the steps and requirements.
To find out if you are eligible for expungement in Texas, give our law offices a call today at 214-575-8300. We have expungement lawyers in Houston and Dallas to help you understand your options and make a plan for moving forward.