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The Haunting Effects of Your Criminal History and the Art of Expunctions

October 7, 2016

                You were eighteen, on your own for the first time, hung out with the wrong crowd and picked up a dope charge because the cop decided that if you were in the car that you must be guilty by association.  Eventually, the prosecution decides that the evidence against you was insufficient and they kindly drop the charges.  You think that life is well until you apply for a job five to ten years later and they tell you that they can’t hire you because of some “concerning things on your criminal history.”  You start looking into the matter and discover that an arrest from your youth is now haunting you.   You have no clue of “who you’re gonna call…”  Fortunately, there are people that you can call to remove the charge from your record.  Your first call is the clerk of the court where your charge was handled to see if any charges actually hit their records.  The clerk can tell you the court disposition, if any, of your case.  Depending on how your case was actually disposed of or handled, you may qualify for an expunction or order of non-disclosure.

                If your case did not go to court and result in a final conviction, you may be eligible for an expunction.  Expunction is the process where an event in your criminal history is completely removed from your record.  Many people assume that when charges against them are dismissed that the arrest is automatically removed from their criminal history.  This is not the case in Texas.  The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure requires you to file a formal petition (or motion) to have the event removed from your history.  Following the filing of your petition, the court will set your request for a hearing and determine if your case is eligible for expunction.  If your case is eligible, the judge will sign an order directing the agencies to dispose of any documents related to the arrest from their databases.   The process can take anywhere from thirty to 180 days depending on the court settings available in your county.

                If your case did not result in a final conviction, but instead, you took a plea to accept a deferred adjudication, you will not be eligible for an expunction, but you may be entitled for a different type of relief called an “order of non-disclosure.”  The procedure is similar to filing for an expunction.  The difference, however, is that if the motion is granted, then it is not completely removed from your criminal history.  The order of non-disclosure permits law enforcement and government agencies to keep the information about your charge in their data bases, but it prohibits them from sharing the information with the general public.  This means that if you obtain the order of non-disclosure, then a future employer would not be able to see charge and thereby use it against you.

                People make mistakes.  Others are falsely accused and arrested by assumptions.  Even though the justice system should auto correct false arrests, it does not do so.  Instead, most victims of false accusations continue to be haunted by their past.  Fortunately, there are options.  Our firm offers free evaluations to determine which process you are eligible for.  Contact our office today to see what relief you may be entitled to.  Your past doesn’t have to haunt you forever.  

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