This is the third post in my series on the sealing and expunction of criminal records for residents of Austin, Texas. My previous post discussed the benefits of sealing your criminal record. I provided several examples of how sealing or an expunction can help you obtain future employment or housing. I also addressed the role sealing and expunction generally play in background checks. In this article, I will discuss how to determine if you are eligible to clear your criminal history. Contact my office to speak with a lawyer regarding your eligibility for the process.
Austin residents may be eligible for the expunction of their criminal history
In the state of Texas, a criminal record may be eligible for expunction under a variety of circumstances. So how will Austin residents know if they meet the eligibility requirements? You may be eligible if:
- The charge against you was dismissed, and you were not convicted or placed on any kind of community supervision for any offense arising out of the same arrest
- You were arrested for a crime, but not charged with the offense
- You have not been charged with a crime within the required statutory period
- You have not been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any offense arising out of the same episode, and the statute of limitations for the crime has expired
- You were acquitted by a trial court or an appellate court
- Your name was falsely used by another person without your consent
- The prosecutor has recommended that your record be expunged
- You have been pardoned or granted relief on the basis of actual innocence
While this list may make it sound as if your eligibility for expunction is a straightforward matter, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss whether the circumstances surrounding you qualify for the process. For instance, some cases are more complicated than others. These may involve the expunction of multiple charges, multiple instances of arrest, or multiple convictions. Another example of a potential complication is if you are not sure of where your crime falls within the statutory period. An attorney can assist you with these issues and determine if you meet the eligibility requirements to have your record expunged. Once it has been decided that you are eligible for expunction then you may begin the process. I will discuss this process in greater detail in my next article for this series. Remember that the process for expungement can be quite lengthy. This is especially true if you wish to expunge more than one charge or arrest from your record. Because of this, I cannot stress enough that you should begin to determine whether you would be eligible for expunction immediately.
Austin residents may be otherwise eligible to seal their criminal records
Determining whether a criminal record is eligible for sealing is a bit different than deciding whether it is eligible for expunction. In Texas, a record is considered to be sealed if an order of nondisclosure has been granted. Austin residents may be eligible to obtain an order of nondisclosure if they have successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision. One will be considered as having successfully completed this process if each of the following requirements are met:
- He or she entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere; and
- The judge did not formally enter a guilty verdict and, instead, placed the individual under the Court’s supervision; and
- The judge dismissed the charges at the end of the supervision and, depending on the offense, the applicable waiting period has passed
Effective Sept. 1, 2017, some people with one prior non-violent misdemeanor conviction (including certain Driving While Intoxicated charges), may be able to get their records made non-public. This statute has many exceptions and knowing whether a prior misdemeanor conviction might be eligible is something that an experienced defense attorney can tell you.
As you can see, the requirements for eligibility for expunction are not the same as those for record sealing. It is crucial that you determine which method you qualify for because each will involve a different process. If you would like to discuss your eligibility for expunction or record sealing then contact my Austin office to speak with an attorney. I also serve the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.