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How to Petition for Expunction of Your Criminal Record

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

How to Petition for Expunction of Your Criminal Record

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A criminal record can follow you throughout every aspect of your life. In fact, you may not realize its full impact until you attempt to gain employment or apply for a loan.

This impact particularly can be unfair if your record technically should not exist in the first place. However, you may be able to reclaim your life by understanding how and when to seek expunction of your criminal history.

Defining Expunction

Expunction, also known as expungement, is the act of permanently eliminating your criminal record. It removes all of the legal documents related to your arrest, charges, and action against you in court. Once the expunction is carried out, it is as if your criminal record never existed.

Expungement differs from sealing your record – non-disclosure. Sealing restricts who can gain access to your criminal history. A court order typically is required to unseal your criminal records, although government agencies may be granted access to them.

Qualifying for Expunction

According to Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, expunction is not open to everyone who has been arrested for, charged with or convicted of criminal offenses. In fact, only people who meet certain criteria are allowed to pursue this option. You may be eligible to request an expungement if you have been:

  • Arrested, but the charges against you were dropped
  • Arrested and charged, but acquitted by the court or jury
  • Convicted, but later found innocent by an appeals court
  • Convicted, but later granted a governor or presidential pardon
  • Charged, but not tried before the statute of limitations expired

Knowing how the statute of limitations can be vital to pursuing expunction of your record. The statute of limitations are:

  • Class A misdemeanor: 180 days after your arrest
  • Class A or B misdemeanor: One year from date of your arrest
  • Felony: Three years from the date of your arrest

You also may be eligible for expungement if you were charged with:

  • A qualifying juvenile misdemeanor offense
  • A minor alcohol-related offense
  • Failure to attend school
  • Identity theft, but the charge was later dropped or applied to another person instead

Finally, you may pursue this option if you were given a pre-trial diversion. People who are not eligible to ask for expungement are those individuals who have been charged and found guilty of:

  • Child molestation
  • Prostitution
  • Sexual battery
  • Theft
  • Driving under the influence
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident

You also cannot ask for expunction if you have been found guilty by reason of insanity or if you have been granted clemency.

Reasons to Request Expunction

Just like your credit or employment record can follow you throughout life, so can your criminal record. When you want to apply for a bank loan or fill out an application for an apartment, for example, the people reviewing your request will see your record and perhaps decide against you.

When you want to start fresh and not be haunted by these offenses, you should ask to have your record expunged. This action will give you the freedom to reclaim your life and let you avoid being unfairly judged and turned away for financing, housing, employment, and other opportunities.

How to Request Expungement

Making a formal request to have your criminal record expunged requires that you follow a precise process. You can carry out this process yourself; however, you may fare better if you hire an attorney to help you.

To ask for expunction, you must:

  • File your request in the county in which you were charged or the offense occurred
  • Provide your Social Security number and the necessary details about your case
  • File a request for each offense that you wish to have expunged

If you want to have multiple offenses removed, your success will depend on the nature of those charges. Some may be expunged while others could remain on your record.

A criminal history can greatly impact your life. You may be able to avoid the consequences of being arrested and charged with a crime by learning how and when to request expunction of your record.

Looking to clear a prior criminal charge from your record? Consult with an experienced expungement attorney at The Law Office of Greg Tsioros to find out if you’re eligible. Call today! (832) 752-5972


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