Having an arrest record and conviction can have a negative impact on your future. It can cause you to miss job opportunities or have a loan denied.
Fortunately, there is something you can do to help remedy this problem.
Depending on the offense and some eligibility requirements, it is possible to have your record expunged. This is great news as it hits the reset button on your life. You no longer have to admit to anyone that you were ever in trouble with the law.
One instance of bad judgment should not have to haunt you forever. There are procedures in place to help those who need a fresh start.
Read on to find out how to get criminal records expunged.
What is an Expunged Record
When a criminal record is expunged, it means the entire file is erased. Sometimes, it means everything is destroyed, including digital information on criminal databases and even all paper files.
There is also a provision known as an order of nondisclosure. This allows you to legally answer "no" when asked if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. Another name for this is having your record sealed.
How Does Expungement Help You
For some of the most important decisions in your life, you must acknowledge if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. This question shows up on job applications, loan applications, and even rental agreements.
A criminal record can hold you back from any of these things.
In addition, that information is out there for anyone who runs a background check on you. Technology today is so advanced, and information is easy to obtain, so this indiscretion can be found and potentially used against you.
Having your record expunged guarantees that no one ever again will discover this mistake and you can legally and honestly answer “no” on any form being filled out.
Are You Eligible
You may be eligible to have your records expunged if one of these apply:
•You were convicted, but it was overturned
•You were convicted, but then pardoned
•You were acquitted
•You were charged, but the statute of limitations expired, and the case was dismissed
•You were arrested, but never actually charged
The last condition requires a waiting period before filing. If you were arrested, but never charged, you must wait 180 days from your arrest for a Class C misdemeanor. A Class A or B misdemeanor has a waiting period of one year from the arrest date, and a felony charge requires you to wait three years from the arrest date.
There are no waiting periods for the other four examples.
A filing for nondisclosure is made if a no contest or guilty plea was entered and you completed all requirements from the judgment. This could include community service and restitution or fines. There is a waiting period of five years for felonies and two years for serious misdemeanors.
The following are offenses that are NOT eligible to be expunged:
•A charge where you were required to register as a sex offender
•A charge of stalking
•Any charge related to family violence
Can a DWI Charge be Expunged
There are certain conditions in which a DWI arrest qualifies to be expunged.
If you were arrested as a minor (under age 21) and there are no other convictions under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, then the conviction should be eligible to be expunged. The State of Texas prefers rehabilitation over punishment in kids and gives them the chance to wipe this mistake from their record.
When arrested as an adult, the record can still be expunged if no charges were filed. This is advisable because the arrest is still on record and would show up in a background check. If there are no charges, the arrest should be expunged so there is no history.
If your DWI was dismissed, you should file to have the arrest and charge expunged. This does not automatically happen, and will still be on your record. The same is true if you were tried and found to be not guilty.
There is also a provision for first time DWI offenders to have their records sealed. This means that anyone running a background check would not be able to see the conviction. It would, however, still show up in searches by law enforcement or government officials.
To qualify to have this record sealed, it must be your first DWI and the blood alcohol level was not higher than .15 percent. Also, the incident did not cause harm to another individual and all the terms of the sentence were completed.
In addition, there can be no other conviction on record.
Here is information to avoid common mistakes driver's make during a DWI arrest.
The Time and Cost Involved
Once the filing for expungement has been made with the court, a hearing will be scheduled. This takes about thirty days. If you win, it can take up to six months for all the records to reflect this decision.
The cost varies depending on multiple factors. You should plan on an average investment of $1000-$2500 to complete the process.
How to Get Criminal Records Expunged
The petition to have your record expunged must be made at the district court in the county where the offense occurred, and the arrest was made.
This can be a complicated matter, and it is best to have an attorney who has experience in these types of proceedings to handle this for you. They can offer guidance through the process and will know the correct way to move forward.
The Right Track
Everyone makes mistakes. You should not have to be reminded of one slip up at every turn in your life.
Fortunately, there are provisions available to take steps to completely erase this event from your record. If you meet the requirements and have an experienced attorney on your side, you can soon be on the right track into your future.
For more information on how to get criminal records expunged contact us.