by Adam Branson & Collin Evans

Having a criminal record can have lasting effects, but fortunately, Texans who have been arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor offense may have all records relating to the arrest destroyed if certain criteria are met, as defined by Texas state law. This legal process is known as expungement and it grants an opportunity for an individual to leave his or her criminal past behind.

If you were arrested for DWI in Houston, for example, you may seek to clear your criminal record, but you must do so according to Texas state law. Therefore, it is highly recommended, due to the complexities of the law, to seek the help of a licensed expungement attorney. With the assistance of an DWI expungement attorney in Houston or Harris County, for example, an individual can determine whether or not he or she qualifies for expungement. A DWI defendant, for example, may qualify for expungement because the case against him or her was dismissed, because he or she was acquitted at trial, or received a pardon.

In some cases, Texas state law requires that a minimum amount of time elapses prior to clearing one’s record. For example, if you were arrested for a Class C misdemeanor in Houston or Harris County, but no charges were filed against you, you must wait 180 days for an expungement of records. The timeframe to wait for an expungement of a Class A or B misdemeanor, typically a more serious issue, extends to one year. In addition, felony charges related to the initial arrest must not have been brought against a defendant for him or her to qualify for an expungement. Texas state law also requires that a defendant cannot be convicted of or subject to prosecution for another offense occurring out of the same criminal episode to be eligible for expungement, even if acquitted of one or more of the charges.

Expungement proceedings in Houston, Harris County, and the state of Texas are not automatic, so it is important to contact an expungement attorney as soon as possible. If you feel that you qualify for expungement, for any of the reasons listed above, it is your responsibility to take action, contact an expungement attorney, and file a petition for expunction. Working with an expungement attorney in Houston, Harris County, or any location in Texas is vitally important, as state law mandates that legal procedures are correctly adhered to during expungement proceedings. Doing so with a licensed expungement attorney will help to ensure that a defendant’s one and only opportunity to clear his or her criminal record is successful.

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