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Legal Methods for Clearing Your Criminal Record in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Legal Methods for Clearing Your Criminal Record in Texas

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A criminal record can impede your life in a variety of ways. It can make it difficult or nearly impossible to get a good job or enroll in college. You also may be ineligible for financial aid like loans or grants through the federal government.

Rather than wait to secure credit, get a good job, or further your education until the charges fall off your record, you can take steps to clear it now. These methods are available to you when you want to clean up your criminal record in Texas.

Review Your Criminal Record Thoroughly

Before you can clean up your record, you first need to obtain a copy of it and examine it carefully for errors or misinformation. You can get a copy of your records by contacting the courthouse in the jurisdiction where you were arrested and charged for the offense.

If multiple jurisdictions were involved at the time of your prosecution, you can get a consolidated copy of the record if available. If not, you will have to contact each jurisdiction separately to request a copy.

Once you have your criminal record in hand, you will want to review it carefully for details like:

  • Names
  • Dates
  • Dispositions
  • Changes to the record

You should ensure that all of this information is correct and accurate. If you find mistakes or omitted details, you should contact the court’s clerk to notify him or her immediately. The clerk can correct some mistakes. Other mistakes may have to be corrected by the prosecutor’s office.

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Reduce the Categorization of Your Crime

If you were arrested for and found guilty of a felony that could have been either a misdemeanor or a felony, you can contact the court to request that the crime be reduced to a misdemeanor. These offenses are known as “wobblers” because they fall in between the definition of a misdemeanor and felony. If you were charged with a felony, you could ask for it to be dropped down to a misdemeanor for the sake of cleaning up your record.

The court may be willing to grant your request if you were charged with and found guilty of non-violent lesser crimes like driving without a license or disturbing the peace. Your request may also be granted if you have not committed any more crimes since your conviction and have taken meaningful steps to become a more productive citizen.

File for an Expungement

You can also clear up your criminal record in Texas by filing for an expungement. Expungement in the purest of legal terms means the destruction of records. However, the state of Texas does not actually destroy your criminal records. Instead, it seals them so they cannot be viewed by people like:

  • Potential employers
  • Lenders
  • Schools
  • Landlords or mortgage brokers

In fact, sealing and expungement are interchangeable terms in Texas. If you are granted an expungement of your criminal record, it will be sealed and off-limits to nearly everyone except for law enforcement officers, court officials, and others who may need to see it in order to investigate a crime.

To file for an expungement, you first have to submit the proper paperwork to the court and pay the filing fee, which can be as high as $1,000. You also have to wait for at least three years from the time of your arrest.

You could be eligible for an expungement if you were arrested but not charged with a crime. You likewise could be granted an expungement if you were found not guilty in a criminal trial.

You can even have minor alcohol and traffic infractions expunged from your record. The conviction will still show up on your record. However, the clerk will add a note to it that the judge presiding over your case dismissed it in the interests of justice.

Another type of expungement that you can ask the court for is a Certificate of Actual Innocence. This certificate can be granted to you if you were charged with a crime and the charges against you were dropped.

It eliminates the possibility of the record being accessed and causing issues for you later in life. It essentially says that the criminal record never existed at all.

You can also file for Proof of Rehabilitation to clear your criminal record. This proof provides evidence to landlords, employers, and others that you have taken steps to live an exemplary life. It also vouches that you have been proactive in correcting your past wrongs, that you have expressed proper remorse, and that you have paid full restitution to your victims if applicable.

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Hire an Attorney

If you want to have your criminal record expunged, you can get the results you want by hiring an experienced expungement lawyer. Your lawyer will know what documents have to be filed with the court. He or she will also know in what jurisdiction the paperwork must be filed and to what clerks the documents must be addressed.

Hiring an expungement attorney can also be a good decision if you want the most cost-effective way to clear up your criminal record. Your lawyer can also shorten the process as much as possible for you. He or she could have your record expunged within 30 to 180 days.

Navigating the expungement process in Texas can be complex if you are not familiar with the state’s laws. Rather than figure it out for yourself and possibly make costly mistakes that could complicate your record further, you can have the record expunged and cleared up by retaining a skilled expungement lawyer to represent you.

A criminal record can make living a normal and productive life difficult. You may not want to wait until the charges and convictions fall off to go to school, buy a house, or get a lucrative job. You can shorten the wait by having your convictions and charges expunged. You can hire an expungement lawyer to help you with the process.

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