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  • Writer's pictureJustin Sparks

How to Expunge Misdemeanor - Texas Law Firms Can Help

When it comes to the severity of the punishment that offenders face, misdemeanor offenses are a lot better than felony convictions.

However, the burden of having a criminal record attached to the convict's name applies to both cases.

Texas law makes it possible for virtually anyone to access a person's criminal record by running a simple background check. That means potential employers, educational institutes, and banks can check someone's criminal history at any time.

Needless to say, a criminal record in Texas will make life very difficult for most people. Even a seemingly minor Class C misdemeanor, such as an offense involving family violence will close a lot of doors if it ends with a criminal conviction.

As such, having a criminal record expunged is something that offenders have to consider. With the help of an experienced defense attorney, a person's criminal past does not have to become an obstacle in the future.

Sparks Law Firm has the expertise to have a misdemeanor expunged and allow any Texas resident to enjoy a life without restrictions. Anyone with a criminal charge can contact the law firm at +1 817-334-0300 to set up a free consultation. They can also help answer questions like how long does a misdemeanor stay on your record in Texas?

What Does It Mean to Have a Criminal Record Expunged?

What Does It Mean to Have a Criminal Record Expunged?

Having a criminal record expunged removes arrests and convictions from a person's history entirely as if the criminal charges never occurred.

When done properly, no one, not even government agencies or court officials will be able to view the expunged records.

A criminal record expungement in Texas is different from simply having a person's criminal past sealed from public view. When records are sealed, they can still be accessed through a court order in certain circumstances.

Expungement allows a person to have the same opportunities as anyone else, even if they were once found guilty and convicted of a past misdemeanor offense.

However, in the interest of public safety, it should be noted that certain offenses, such as sexual assault on a minor, cannot be expunged due to the serious nature of the offense.

Expunction of Criminal Records Vs. Non-disclosure

Cleaning up a person's criminal record can be done using either an expungement or through a non-disclosure petition. Either way can be very effective in preventing members of the public from accessing a person's criminal records.

However, there is a difference between the two. While expungement in Texas law means completely erasing criminal records as if they never existed, non-disclosures simply prevent public access through a background check.

Government entities, licensing agencies, and justice agencies can still access a criminal record that has been sealed under non-disclosure.

This means that even though the person is protected, their past can still come back to haunt them in certain cases.

As such, of the two methods, having a criminal record expunged provides a lot more protection and peace of mind, especially when it comes to finding employers and a place to live.

Why Expungement Is Important

With certain misdemeanor offenses, it is possible to get away with just a fine or community service. However, it is having an arrest and conviction record on their criminal history that is the biggest problem for offenders.

Considering how easy it is to run a background check on anyone these days, having a criminal history expunged should be considered an investment in a person's future and peace of mind.

The following are some of the many benefits of expungement:

  • More and better employment opportunities

  • Removal of the stigma of having a criminal past

  • Better education opportunities

  • More options when it comes to housing

  • Unhindered access to financial loans and services

  • Better chances of adopting or fostering children

  • Lowering insurance premiums

  • Privacy regarding a past criminal conviction

Texas Expungement Law

To expunge criminal records in Texas, an order is issued under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 55.02. If approved, all documents related to a particular arrest, trial, and conviction will be permanently destroyed.

Once the expungement is complete, Texas law allows a person to hide their criminal history and deny that they were ever arrested or convicted of that crime.

This means that even when asked about their record in job applications or interviews, such a person is under no obligation to reveal details of their expunged criminal history.

Eligibility Requirements

According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 55.01, a criminal record in Texas can only be expunged if the case and the offender meet certain requirements, such as:

  • Having no criminal charges filed against them

  • The offender received a pardon from the Governor or the President

  • Being charged but acquitted on an appeal

  • The offender was sentenced for misdemeanor offenses as a minor

  • A successful plea bargain was entered

  • Charges that were subject to a later dismissal order

  • The offender was arrested but never tried and the prosecution approved the expunction

  • A grand jury issued a “no-bill” while considering charges against the offender

  • Being found innocent after a wrongful conviction

What Crimes Are Not Eligible for Expungement?

It is important to note that certain offenses are not deemed eligible for expungement. This includes any DWI offenses that led to a conviction and incarceration. Straight probation is also not eligible for an expungement.

In the case of a deferred adjudication, criminal record expungement is only possible for Class C misdemeanors.

Therefore, if any other class of misdemeanor has a deferred adjudication, the person will not be able to have their criminal record expunged. They can, however, petition for an order of non-disclosure with the help of a good criminal defense attorney.

If the petition for the expungement of a criminal record in Texas is denied, the offender can still move the court with a Habeas Corpus writ or seek an official pardon from the President or Governor as a final resort.

How to Expunge Misdemeanor

Texas law can be very complicated at times, especially when seeking to expunge a criminal conviction.

However, with the help of a good criminal defense attorney, both the criminal charge and final conviction for a Class C misdemeanor or many other convictions can be successfully expunged.

The following are seven simple steps that offenders need to take:

  • Obtain a copy of the offender's fingerprint card from the L-1 Enrollment Services

  • Request the criminal record from the Texas Department of Public Safety

  • Give notice to the Texas Department of Public Safety, arresting police authority, and the district attorney about the petition to expunge the criminal records

  • Wait for the DA to evaluate the proposed order and provide official approval

  • Present the order for expungement to the district court judge

  • Wait for the judge’s approval to have all criminal records held by the court, the Department of Public Safety, the arresting agency, and the prosecutor’s office destroyed

The total cost of the entire expungement process, including court fees and attorney fees will be around $1,000 or less.

If an offender cannot afford this, Texas law does not force them to work with criminal defense attorneys, meaning they can cut save on attorney fees.

However, the process will be much easier with some legal guidance, especially when dealing with complications that can arise, such as dealing with a deferred adjudication for Class C misdemeanors.

Expungement of Juvenile Offenses in Texas

According to the Texas Family Code § 58.253, juvenile records will be automatically sealed as long as the Juvenile meets all the statutory requirements.

In such cases, the probation department will be notified by the Department of Public Safety to seal the records.

How Long Does an Expungement Take in Texas?

From the moment the petition for expungement is filed, it will usually take about six to eight weeks for the court to give its ruling. However, this waiting period depends on the circumstances of the case and the workload that the court clerk has.

Waiting Period Before Expungement Is Possible in Texas

There is a mandatory waiting period that offenders have to go through before they can seek an expungement of their criminal records.

This means that even for minor Class C misdemeanors, the offender cannot immediately get their records destroyed.

Usually, the waiting period starts from the time the offender completes their sentence or deferred adjudication. In cases where there was an arrest that did not result in charges, the following are the normal waiting periods:

  • Class C misdemeanors - 180 days

  • Class A and B misdemeanors - One year

  • All felonies - Three years

In most cases, it is best to wait until the statute of limitations for the crime has expired, otherwise the prosecutor will usually want to hold on to the records.

How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help?

How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help?

Many complex processes need to be done when submitting a petition for expungement in Texas.

A good criminal defense attorney can help offenders file a petition and also provide legal representation during the court hearing. They can also answer questions such as what is a misdemeanor in Texas?

With the right lawyer, petitioning for expungement may not even be necessary in some cases. The attorney can advise their client to participate in a pretrial diversion program, for example, that will allow their records to be automatically expunged after completion.

Contact Sparks Law Firm and Get Started

Proving actual innocence is not easy when private employers and federal agencies have such easy access to a person's criminal records. As such, for most misdemeanor offenders, having their records expunged is their only option.

With an impressive record of handling many such cases, Sparks Law Firm can provide the guidance and expertise to make the expungement of a criminal record in Texas quick and easy. The firm's top-rated attorneys are available now for a free consultation.


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