3 things to know about expungement in Texas

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2024 | Criminal Defense

A criminal record can have negative implications for someone’s future. Employers, educational institutions and even landlords perform background checks when making decisions about someone. A person who has had limited exposure to the criminal justice system in Texas could potentially be eligible for an expunction.

What Texas calls an expunction, other states refer to as expungement. It involves the permanent removal of specific information from someone’s public record. Expunction proceedings in Texas can help someone who has had a brush with the law by preventing outside parties from accessing certain records.

Only certain people are eligible

For the most part, a criminal conviction makes someone ineligible for expunction. In fact, most expunction filings deal with arrest records for someone not charged with or convicted of a criminal offense. However, a small subset of those with criminal records may qualify for expunction if they secured deferred adjudication. Those who qualified for deferred adjudication of a Class C misdemeanor offense may be able to remove the record of that prior brush with the legal system. Otherwise, people can only expunge records related to an arrest that did not lead to criminal charges.

Expunctions have a mandatory waiting period

Expunction is only available for people who wait a set amount of time after their deferred adjudication or their arrest. The nature of the offense determines how long someone must wait. Those arrested for a Class C misdemeanor and not charged with a crime could seek expunction after 180 days. Those arrested for class A or Class B misdemeanor offenses who the state never charged with an offense could request expunction after a year. Any felony arrest extends that waiting period to three years.

Applicants must file special paperwork

An application for expunction is the document that initiates the process of removing a prior arrest or deferred adjudication for a Class C misdemeanor from someone’s criminal record. Typically, they must submit the application in the county where the arrest occurred. The application requires a fingerprint card from the Department of Public Safety. The applicant then needs to wait for a court hearing, which could occur after a 30-day waiting period after they file their documents.

Small mistakes, such as errors in paperwork or petitioning the wrong courts, could delay the expunction process. Especially when there is a looming deadline related to education, housing or employment, people may need support as they pursue expunction. Understanding the rules that apply in Texas criminal court may benefit those hoping to move on from a prior arrest. Expunction or expungement can help people improve their lives after a prior brush with the law.