Even if you are never convicted, the consequences of being arrested or charged with a crime can stick with you long after your case is resolved. Arrest records can still show up on a background check and can hurt you when you try to apply for a job, enroll in school or rent an apartment.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, a Texas criminal records expungement lawyer may be able to help you clear your name. If a judge grants expungement -also known as expunction - the records relating to your arrest, criminal charges and court proceedings will be destroyed.
Expungement can be hard to get, and is only available to people who fall into one of the following four categories:
- Found not guilty of a crime - a person who is tried and acquitted is eligible for expunction, as are those who are convicted of a crime but later receive a pardon. Criminal records expungement is also available to anyone whose conviction was later overturned on appeal.
- Arrested, but never indicted - if an individual is arrested, but ultimately not charged with a crime then records can be expunged, so long as charges for another crime did not stem from the same criminal episode.
- Indicted, but the charges were dropped or dismissed - is when the charges were thrown out, either because the statute of limitations on the crime had expired or because there was good reason to believe the person did not commit the crime.
- Successfully completed pre-trial diversion - when a person completes pre-trial diversion the charge is dropped, and all the records related to the charge are eligible for expungement. For this reason, it is important to enlist the help of a skilled Houston criminal defense attorney who can help identify possible avenues for pre-trial diversion.
Even if these requirements are met, it is important to note that expunction is not available to people who were convicted of a felony in the five years preceding the date of the arrest they are seeking to expunge.
Texans who do not meet the requirements for expungement may still be able to have their records sealed from public view by seeking an order of nondisclosure.
Do not let a past arrest record haunt your life. If you think you might meet the requirements for criminal record expungement, talk to a Texas record sealing attorney who can help you protect your future.