Can an Attorney Remove my Criminal Record?
A criminal record can negatively impact your life long after your sentence has been completed. In today’s computerized age, background checks have become commonplace and they can hurt your chances of getting a job, being approved for loans or credit, trying to find an apartment, and hurt your standing in the community.
If you’ve been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime in the past, you may be wondering whether or not an attorney can remove your criminal record so you can find a fresh start.
In the state of Texas, there are two ways in which your criminal record may be cleared.
The first method to remove your criminal record is known as expungement or expunction. If your request is approved, your record will be deleted or destroyed from all databases.
Your arrest record may be cleared through expungement if you meet the following circumstances:
- Charges were never filed
- Charges were filed, but the case was ultimately dismissed
- You have not been tried and the prosecutor recommends expungement
- You were acquitted
- You were pardoned
If the situations above apply in your case, you may qualify for an expungement which will fully clear your arrest record, and a qualified attorney can ensure that all the appropriate databases are petitioned for removal as well.
Upon approval, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will also request any federal records of an arrest to be destroyed. The actual court record ordering the expungement of these records will also be destroyed.
The second method to remove a non-juvenile criminal record in Texas is by filing a motion for non-disclosure. This method of clearing a criminal record is only available to those who have completed what is called deferred adjudication probation.
Deferred adjudication is usually offered for first time offenders, and offers a better deal because if the person finishes their term successfully, they do not have a conviction, but rather the charge is technically dismissed. A jury cannot grant a deferred adjudication, so once a person elects to go to trial, it is no longer a possible punishment.
The most important thing with deferred adjudication is to not pick up another offense, or the judge can revoke the probation and put the person in jail.
It is important to understand, though, that a deferred adjudication does not automatically result in the records being sealed after you have successfully completed the probation period. It will remain on your record and can continue to affect your ability to search for a job, find an apartment, and so forth, so you must file a petition for non-disclosure.
There are also some types of cases that are never eligible for non-disclosure, including murder, endangering a child, family violence, any offense requiring sex offender registration, and a number of others.
Finally, some cases will require a waiting period before the petition for non-disclosure can be filed. For example, a misdemeanor for assault requires a two-year waiting period after successfully completing deferred probation. In the case of felonies, the waiting period is five years.
If you’ve done straight probation as opposed to deferred adjudication probation, then those records can never be sealed or expunged.
If you believe that you may be eligible for expungement or non-disclosure of a particular charge, then you may need to hire an attorney to review your case and any applicable rules to determine if you may be eligible.
Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that the expunging or non-disclosure is handled properly the first time around and that it isn’t rejected, or left to months of delays, which will further impact your life and delay the fresh start you are looking for.
If you are looking to have an attorney remove your criminal record, contact the experienced team at Fears Nachawati to discuss the specifics of your case and what options you may have.
Give them a call at (866) 705-7584, or visit one of their offices, available in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.