Texans with a criminal record worry about the far-reaching effect it has on their lives. Fortunately, there is a way under Texas state law that allows people to have all the records held by law enforcement related to their arrest and criminal charges destroyed. This legal process is called an expunction in Texas courts. The results of an expungement for criminal offenses from someone’s record provides an opportunity for that individual to leave their false or mistaken arrest in the past.
There are various ways a criminal case can be resolved that make records of the arrest and prosecution of the matter eligible for expunction. An arrest and charges must result in a dismissal, a Not Guilty verdict at trial, or the successful completion of a pre-trial diversion program. If convicted of an offense, the only way to get the records expunged involves either a pardon or the case being overturned on appeal. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure sets out the specific conditions that must be met to become eligible.
An individual seeking to clear his or her record in some situations has to wait for a minimum period of time before filing a lawsuit for an expunction. If a person is arrested by law enforcement, but the prosecutor’s office does not accept charges, or accepts charges and later dismisses them, the records of the arrest are eligible for expunction after the following time periods:
* 3 years for felonies
* 1 year for Class A and B misdemeanors
* 180 days for Class C misdemeanors
The details of applying for one of these “waiting period” expunctions can be complicated and confusing.
There are also other situations that may be eligible for an expunction. For example, if the case was dismissed and the statute of limitations has passed. The statute of limitations is the maximum amount of time that a prosecuting attorney’s office has to accept charges after the date the offense allegedly occurred. For misdemeanors in Texas, the statute of limitations is two years. For felonies, the statute of limitations can range from as low as two years for some assault cases to no time limit for charges like murder, sexual assault in specific situations, and indecency with a child. There are still other circumstances where someone’s arrest records can be expunged. Before making a move to begin the process of clearing your criminal record, seek guidance from an attorney who knows and understands the Texas laws regarding expunctions, as well as the local County and District Attorney’s policies for these cases.
Consulting with an experienced attorney who handles expunction cases is your first step towards getting an expunction of the records for your case. Collin Evans has over 15 years of experience in handling
expunction cases and can advise you of the best approach to clear your criminal records. Collin Evans Law is a Houston-based law practice that serves counties throughout Texas in expunction matters, including Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Walker County, Brazos County, Waller County and Brazoria County. Collin Evans is ready and waiting to answer your questions about Texas expunctions or other legal issues you might be facing. For a free consultation and more information about the legal services available, contact the team at Collin Evans Law, PLLC online or by phone at 713-225-0650.
* Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 55. Expunction of Criminal Records
* “Expunctions in Texas,” State Bar of Texas
* “Clear or seal your record? Expunctions vs. Nondisclosures in Texas,” TexasLawHelp.org