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The Process of Expunging a Felony in Texas

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski
Criminal Record Expangement

Past legal mistakes can hang like a dark cloud over many people their entire lives. Employers, neighbors, financial institutions, and even potential love interests can easily access a person’s prior legal history with any internet connection. This can be a source of strain and stress for those who have a prior history. And they’re not alone. As of 2020, there were about 5.17 million people dealing with the consequences of a felony conviction.

What if there was a way to wipe the slate clean and start over? In Texas, people with a troubled legal past may be able to get rid of the stigma and get a fresh start. Expunging or non-disclosing one’s record offers relief for those ready to lift this heavy burden off their shoulders. Not everyone can qualify, so it’s important to understand the rules before jumping to conclusions. But, for many, this has been an incredible game changer in their lives. To learn more about expungement and non-disclosure laws in Texas, read on.

Can a Felony Be Expunged?

In Texas, it’s possible to get a felony expunged to help erase or seal criminal records. This is particulary important for those who were wrongly arrested or charged with a criminal defense. When you have a felony on your record, it can make getting a loan, a job, or even renting a property much more difficult.

Even if a felony arrest is on record without a conviction, it can cause personal and legal issues. Getting a felony expunged in Texas allows a person declare they were never arrested for that offense. It wipes the slate clean and can be a source of true liberation for those carrying the burden of a record. Further, files and prosecution records get destroyed following the expunging.

Wondering how to get a felony expunged and what charges have the ability to get expunged? The charges are as follows:

Felony Charges Without Finding Guilt

Many people are unaware they may qualify for expunging their record. There is no explicit language about it in the constitution so many assume it’s not available to them. The opportunity for expunging records was created by statute and a person must satisfy all requirements to get an expunction statute.

If you were convicted of the charge, you may not qualify for an expunction. However, there are a few exceptions to this. For example, if you were convicted but there was a reversal in the case, later on, you may qualify for an expunction statute.

Expunging a felony in Texas can also occur if the felony charge did not end with a conviction. Along with a felony charge, you could get misdemeanors expunged if the charges got dropped without action, you were acquitted, or if you were pardoned by the offense.

To begin an expunction petition, you must wait until after the statute of limitations or waiting period has expired. You can only fill out a petition if you meet one of the above requirements.

How to File for Expunction

Filing for an expunction can be confusing and time-consuming. It’s helpful to contact an experienced criminal attorney for help. For a felony offense, the typical waiting period before you can file an expunction is three years. Once this time is up, you can apply in the arresting country. You will also need to provide appropriate ID and/or a fingerprint card through the Department of Public Safety.

Once you’ve met all the filing requirements, a court date then gets set by the clerk. Generally, this gets done 30 days or more from the filing date. A criminal defense attorney can help insure you have everything in order for your filing.

Petition for Non-Disclosure

An expunction is the best option to erase a criminal record for those who qualify. However, the option is not available for everyone. Another plausible option is to petition for non-disclosure. A non-disclosure means your criminal records get sealed. This means that potential employers, neighbors, or other nosy people can’t see your record.

If you are not eligible to petition for expunction, you can still opt for a non-disclosure petition depending on the circumstances of your case.

The major difference between non-disclosure and an expunction is that your records are not destroyed with a non-disclosure. This means your records can still get seen by government agents, but the public is unable to access them. Other than that, the two options are very similar.

A non-disclosure is still helpful because employers and other agencies cannot access criminal records. You have a better chance of getting a job, a loan, or a property because agencies cannot use a felony against you.

How to File for Non-Disclosure

Like expungement, filing for non-disclosure can be confusing and complicated. It’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney before starting the process to avoid unnecessary delays or denials. A misdemeanor and felony case could be eligible for non-disclosure if specific requirements are met. The petition must get filed with the clerk of the court that handled the offense in the first place.

If you were not placed on deferred adjudication community supervision, you might not qualify. A copy of this for the offense in question should be attached to the petition. The clerk of the court that placed you on deferred adjudication can provide you with a copy.

The deferred adjudication must get completed before the court can issue a discharge order. You should also place a copy of the dismissal document on your petition.

Even if you are placed on deferred adjudication, you may not be eligible for non-disclosure. If you have any disqualifying history, you also won’t be eligible. Similar to an expunction, you have to wait a specific time period before seeking a non-disclosure order.

For a felony offense, you cannot file for non-disclosure until the fifth anniversary of your discharge date. During a special time period, identified by the courts, you cannot be convicted of other criminal offenses.

There is a filing fee that varies depending on the county you are in. The clerk of the court can determine this fee. If you cannot afford the payment, you must file another form.

Expunging a Felony in Texas Explained

Getting a fresh start is something we could all use at some point in our lives. There is a heavy burden on those with a prior legal history. Applying for a job, getting a loan from a bank, or even meeting someone on a dating website can be really difficult for anyone with a prior record. Texas expungement and non-disclosure laws give hope of a fresh start to those who qualify. If you have been wrongly accused of a felony charge, you may be eligible for expunging a felony or filing for non-disclosure. The best way to get your records sealed or destroyed is by having an experienced lawyer by your side.

At the Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski, we have over 20 years experience with Texas expungement and non-disclosure laws. If you or a loved on is in need of legal help, Contact us today to speak with one of our experienced associates.

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