Facing a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) charge in Texas can be a daunting experience that results in far-reaching consequences aside from just fines and jail time, from limits to employment prospects to damage to your reputation and other negative impacts on your personal life. However, there may be hope for putting false allegations or past mistakes behind you through different legal processes depending on the outcome of your case. Read on to learn more about the details of these processes, the specific requirements for each that you would need to meet, and an overview of the steps involved in getting a DWI record cleaned up in Houston, Texas.
Understanding DWI Expunction in Houston, Texas
While most convictions cannot be removed from a person’s record in Texas, state law does allow for some individuals to have information and records about an arrest, charge, or conviction destroyed or sealed from the public in certain circumstances. For instance, some DWIs can be expunged through the legal process known as DWI expungement.
DWI expunction is the legal process aimed at destroying records of an arrest and prosecution of a crime in Texas. This procedure offers individuals a fresh start through a civil lawsuit that results in a judge signing an order requiring law enforcement to destroy records related to the DWI arrest, effectively making their public criminal records inaccessible. Obtaining the court order is the most important step to getting documents and details regarding the offense erased from criminal record databases permanently. Once an expunction order is signed, you can legally deny that you were ever arrested, charged, or prosecuted for the DWI.
Texas DWI Expungement Requirements
To be eligible for DWI expunction in Houston, Texas, you must meet certain requirements to determine if you qualify to file a petition for an Order of Expunction under Texas state law. For DWIs in Texas, the requirements for eligibility to file an expunction petition are outlined in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Here is a basic overview of specific guidelines related to having your record expunged of a DWI in Texas:
- Acquittal or Dismissal: You can apply for DWI expunction if your Texas DWI case resulted in an acquittal (not guilty verdict) or if the charges were dismissed.
- Statute of Limitations: The State of Texas imposes a statute of limitations for DWI expunction. Generally, you must wait until the statute of limitations time limit has expired before seeking an expunction. The length of the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor DWI is two (2) years, three (3) years for a felony (DWI 3rd or more, DWI w/ Child Passenger) and no limit for Intoxication Manslaughter.
- Waiting Period: Some defendants must observe a waiting period after the case is resolved before applying for an order of expunction. The length of this waiting period can vary depending on the specific details of your case.
Non-Disclosure: An Alternative to DWI Expungement in Texas
What happens if you are not eligible an order of expunction? Is there anything you can do?
If you are ineligible for expunction, another avenue that may be available to you is a petition for non-disclosure which seals your record from public view. You can seek an order of non-disclosure to have law enforcement agencies conceal certain criminal offenses so you can legally deny that you were ever arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted, or placed on deferred adjudication/probation any time you fill out paperwork that asks about your criminal history. With an order of non-disclosure, the files still exist but are only accessible to particular representatives of criminal justice agencies, licensing agencies, and some other government organizations.
How to Get a DWI Sealed in Houston, Texas
The process of getting a DWI sealed in Texas through an order of non-disclosure involves several steps. The first and most crucial step is to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in DWI cases and expunction. He will examine the details of your case to assess your situation, determine your eligibility, and guide you through the process of applying for a non-disclosure order.
After verifying that you are eligible, your attorney will file a petition on your behalf with the appropriate court. The petition will include details about your case, including the fact that you meet the eligibility criteria for non-disclosure. Just as with an expunction, you must wait for the court to review your petition and schedule a hearing, if necessary, before the judge will sign off on the order. It is crucial to maintain a clean record and not get arrested for a new offense. If the judge approves your petition, your DWI records will be sealed.
A DWI on your criminal record can have grave and lasting consequences in your life. Clearing your record of a DWI in Houston, Texas, through expunction or non-disclosure can provide a fresh start. The legal process of getting your record cleared or sealed can be time-consuming and complicated, so it is essential to consult with a criminal defense attorney experienced with DWI expungement and non-disclosure who can guide you through the requirements outlined in Texas state law and help you achieve a clean slate for a better future. To navigate the process successfully, get help from Texas DWI lawyer Collin Evans of Collin Evans Law. With years of experience handling a wide range of DWI cases, Mr. Evans can assist you. He will determine if you are eligible for either expunction or non-disclosure and then handle the legal process on your behalf to permanently clear or seal your record efficiently and effectively. If you find yourself in need of a respected attorney’s services to have a DWI cleared from your record or to have your record sealed, reach out to Attorney Collin Evans. To discuss the details of your situation during a free consultation, contact Collin Evans Law now.