As you step into 2023, it’s time for a fresh start. Criminal record expungement is the process of getting your criminal conviction destroyed or sealed from the official state or federal record. This means your criminal conviction will be removed from the public record completely—as though it never happened.
Hidden from public view, it will no longer affect your credit score, your insurance rates, or your career prospects. Whether you’re trying to buy a car, rent an apartment, apply for a loan, or get a new insurance policy, you will not be treated differently. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the qualification criteria and the process of clearing your criminal record in 2023.
1. Partner with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
The record expungement process should be handled by a legal professional to make sure it’s conducted correctly. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands the law and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 55.01, which sets the eligibility criteria. It’s worth the small fee to have peace of mind that the process will be handled right.
They’ll start by determining whether you’re eligible for an expungement. Keep in mind, expungement applies to criminal records from the time of arrest and does not apply to conviction records unless they occurred when the defendant was a child. The court will grant permission to expunge a person’s record if:
- No criminal charges were filed.
- Charges were filed but the defendant was acquitted.
- The charges were dismissed.
- The conviction was overturned, and the defendant was found innocent.
- The charges were presented to a grand jury, which issued a “no bill.”
- Charges were pressed, but the case never went to trial and expungement was approved by the prosecutor.
- The defendant was charged and sentenced for a misdemeanor as a child.
- The defendant was pardoned by the governor of Texas or president of the United States.
- The defendant was granted deferred adjudication for a Class C misdemeanor.
Expungement will not be granted if:
- The defendant was charged and convicted and served time in county jail for a DWI.
- The defendant served straight probation.
- The defendant was convicted of a Class A or B misdemeanor.
- The defendant was convicted of a felony.
In most of these cases, the defendant can petition the court for an order of nondisclosure, which hides the criminal record but it is still accessible by law enforcement. This means that the record still exists and can be used by the courts if you are arrested again. Your previous convictions could be used to argue for more severe punishment if you are convicted of new charges.
Your lawyer will advise you if your case meets the criteria for expungement. Remember, you only get one chance to have your record expunged.
Recommended Read: 3 Reasons Why Your Record Cannot Be Expunged
2. How Long Will I Have to Wait Before My Record Is Clear?
You will be required to wait before you’re able to file a petition for expungement. Once this stage has been cleared, it may take up to 60 days to get a petition for your expungement to be heard in court.
The waiting period depends on what the statutory notice requirements are. This is where it is important to have a capable lawyer who has handled hundreds of expungements before representing you throughout the process.
Once the expungement order is granted, you will be allowed to deny your arrest record on formal applications like for employment, housing, etc. However, the Texas Department of Public Safety takes between a few weeks and several months to officially destroy criminal records.
Be patient with the process of clearing your criminal record in 2023. It’s not going to happen overnight, but the opportunities that an expunged record open up definitely make it worth the wait and hassle.
3. Is Criminal Record Expungement Free?
No, it’s not. There are fees to file for an expungement and for notifying agencies as well as your attorney’s fees. Contact your criminal defense lawyer for a breakdown of the costs.
Attorney JL Carpenter understands the criminal record expungement process and has represented numerous clients in the Greater Houston area, helping them get a second chance at life.
Over the years, she has helped clients get their DWI records expunged. Click here to get started. JL’s practice areas also include BWI, drug possession, family violence, and domestic violence, among others.