Area of Law:
A criminal record can be a bar to certain types of employment, licensing, holding public office, and even the right to vote. Most states allow for a process called expungement that will remove certain arrests or criminal convictions from the offender’s record.
Depending upon the laws of the state in which you live and the nature of the crime, you may be able to get an arrest or conviction sealed or erased from your legal record. After the expungement process is complete, you will not need to disclose the conviction on a job or school application, and in most instances no record of the arrest or conviction will show up during a public records inspection or background check commonly done by potential employers, landlords, and educational institutions.
An expunged arrest or conviction may not be completely erased, however, and ordinarily will remain an accessible part of a person's criminal record, accessible to certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is also known as a criminal record being "under seal." In some legal proceedings, an expunged conviction that is under seal may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.
In Texas, a person arrested for a felony or misdemeanor may be entitled to petition for expunction of a criminal record if:
- they were tried for the offense and acquitted, or convicted and subsequently pardoned
- they were not indicted for the offense for which they were arrested for, or if the indictment was dismissed or quashed
Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure contains provisions for the expunction of arrest records, court records and criminal history record information. The statute specifically details the requirements and procedures to properly expunge records in Texas. Those seeking an expungement are encouraged to obtain a copy of their criminal history record as provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Records Service and to also seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney familiar with expungement in the state of Texas.