Having a criminal record, or even an arrest, can severely hinder your ability to get and hold a job or home down the line. Employers and landlords regularly ask applicants if they have any prior arrests or convictions, and many may be unwilling to rent a home or offer a job to someone who answers yes. Fortunately, there are some cases in which you may be able to have your criminal record expunged as an adult.
What Does It Mean to Have a Criminal Record Expunged?
The term expungement, commonly called expunction in Texas, in the context of criminal records includes sealing any records of arrest or conviction. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t exist any longer, but rather, that nobody without proper clearance can see them.
Landlords and employers will be unable to access any expunged criminal records, making it easier for you to find work and housing.
Am I Eligible for Expungement?
You may be eligible to have your criminal record expunged as an adult if you meet any of the following requirements:
- You received an acquittal for the crime for which you were charged.
- You were convicted of the crime, but later found innocent
- You were arrested but have not been charged within the official waiting period
- Within 180 days for Class C misdemeanors
- Within a year for Class A or B misdemeanors
- Within 3 years for a felony
- You were charged with a crime based on evidence that no longer exists
- You received a pardon for your crimes
If you were found guilty of a crime (or pled guilty or no contest), other than a Class C misdemeanor, you can file a petition to have your record expunged if you complete your deferred adjudication community supervision.
How Can I File for Expunction?
To file, you have to complete and submit a petition for expunction with the district court that covers your county.
Even if it sounds as simple as filling out a form, it really isn’t that easy. Expunging criminal records is a complicated task, and you would be well-advised to seek legal aid. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer about how best to proceed.