The process to expunge a criminal record is initiated when an attorney files a lawsuit requesting any law enforcement agency that touched the record to destroy it. In Texas, an expunction occurs after a case has been dismissed, if the person who was arrested was never charged or if they were acquitted in front of a jury. This could include any local police agency in Bexar Country, including the San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Police Department, Castle Hills Police Department, the Bexar County Sheriff’s office, China Grove Police Department or Olmos Park Police Department. Additionally, the lawsuit would include all agencies that are in charge of keeping track of and reporting on criminal activities and criminal cases. Our job is to find each agency and order them to destroy the records of that case. That’s what an expunction does.
How Does An Expunction Differ From Having A Record Sealed?
In Texas, there are two ways to address a criminal record. One way is to have a case sealed when it is the subject of a non-disclosure order. When it is subject to a non-disclosure order anyone who is not with a government agency isn’t supposed to see it. Non-disclosures are not expunctions, however. The records still exist. If you get a DWI and it is non-disclosed, for instance, then the government can still see it but private parties would not.
Another example would be if there is a college student who was charged with marijuana possession, he may want to have it non-disclosed so that his apartment complex wouldn’t see it when running a background check. Taking the same college student who wants to get a license to practice law or medicine, his criminal record would not be protected from the government agencies who issue those licenses by a non-disclosure. An expunction, however, would destroy it. The student would need to have had the case dismissed or would need to be acquitted in front of a jury to ensure the agencies who issue those licenses would not see the record.
What Are The Top Misconceptions People Have About Getting A Criminal Record Expunged?
The main concern about getting a criminal record expunged is whether you qualify for an expunction. If you have had a probation officer on your case, then you do not qualify for an expunction. Most people believe that if they have served and completed deferred adjudication, they are then eligible and that’s just not the case either.
The main categories of people who are eligible for expunctions are:
- People who have had their cases dismissed and the statute of limitations have passed
- People who have been arrested and the State never filed any information or indictment. “Information” is the criminal charging document in a misdemeanor and “indictment” is the criminal charging document in a felony. If that was never filed in your case and the statute of limitations has passed, you are eligible for an expunction
- People who have gone to a jury trial and have been acquitted
- If your case was a Class C Misdemeanor and you’ve received deferred adjudication and the statute of limitations has passed.
In misdemeanor cases, the statute of limitations is almost always two years. In felony cases, the statute of limitations varies according to the charge.
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