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Expunction Myths: Requirements for Clearing Your Criminal Record

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Expunction Myths: Requirements for Clearing Your Criminal Record

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In Texas, certain criminal convictions may qualify for an expunction if some requirements are met. In effect, an expunction removes a criminal conviction from a person’s record. This means that the crime will not show up when some potential employers perform background checks.

However, there are a lot of myths surrounding the concept of legal expunctions. Some of these myths are so incorrect that they may cause defendants who would otherwise qualify for an expunction to miss their chance. In other cases, some people may believe that they qualify for an expunction when they actually do not.

Understanding the truth behind some of these expunction myths can help defendants make the right choice about their future and any convictions on their record.

Common Expunction Myths

While there are many myths about legal expunctions, some of them are more common than others. The most common myths appear so frequently that some people may consider them to be factual. Whether these myths are spread on television crime dramas or overheard from friends, they are almost always untrue.

A few of the most common myths include:

  • Convictions from a long time ago automatically disappear from a criminal record.
  • An expunction means that no one can ever find out that criminal charges were filed.
  • A case dismissal leads to an automatic expunction.
  • A defendant must wait a certain period of time before petitioning for an expunction.
  • All defendants are eligible for expunctions, no matter what the criminal charge.

The Truth Behind The Myths

While some of these myths are simply inaccurate, some of them can be harmful to a defendant’s future. Finding out the truth behind these myths can be extremely important to a defendant’s chances of obtaining a valid expunction.

One of the most common myths involves the belief that, after a certain period of time, a criminal conviction simply disappears from the record. This is completely false. While some minor traffic citations may automatically disappear from a record, all criminal convictions in Texas remain permanently on a record unless they are specifically removed.

Many people also believe that, with an expunction, all traces of the criminal charges disappear completely. However, even after an expunction, a court clerk may retain the records for a period of time and law enforcement agencies may be able to find a record of the expunction itself.

Despite what some people believe, a case that is dismissed can actually remain on a person’s record. The defendant must seek and be eligible for an expunction in order for a charge to be expunged. Expunctions are not automatic.

In some cases, a person who is arrested but not formally charged with a crime must wait a certain period of time before filing for an expunction. In most Texas cases, however, a time limit is not specified.

Not all crimes are eligible for an expunction. Most expungeable offenses are minor misdemeanor crimes. Any crime involving violence or sexually-based offenses, including misdemeanors, may not qualify for expunction.

Getting Your Records Expunged

Even if a defendant is eligible for an expunction, a formal request must be made to the court. Consulting with an attorney is the best way to ensure that all proper procedures are followed when filing for an expunction.

In Texas, the request for expunction must be filed in the county in which the defendant was arrested or in which the crime occurred. The defendant must have committed a crime that allows for expunction, usually a non-violent misdemeanor.

In some cases, a defendant may have committed a crime that does not qualify for an expunction. However, if the defendant is offered deferred adjudication probation for this crime, it may be possible for the defendant to get an order on non-disclosure. While this kind of order does not erase a criminal charge, it may allow the defendant to have their record sealed from most of the public.

To find out if you are eligible to expunge your criminal record, contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros. Call (832) 752-5972 or email today.

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