It is a little known fact that if you have been arrested and it didn’t lead to a conviction you may be eligible for a felony expungement. A common mistake made is that people believe once a case has been dismissed that the arrest has been removed from their criminal record, this is in fact untrue and the arrest will still show up in pre-employment check and public records making it more difficult to gain employment.
The question you need to ask yourself in this situation is ‘How can I find out if my case has a criminal history and if it does how could I clear my criminal record?’ Anyone can receive a copy of their criminal history from the Texas Department of Public Safety. If your record is clean you will receive a certified letter stating ‘No record on file’, if however your file contains a criminal history you may have the option of expungement.
Felony Expungement Eligibility
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you qualify to have a felony expunged before seeking out an expungement lawyer. If you have pled ‘guilty’ or were convicted at trial you won’t be eligible for expunction unless you have been pardoned by the governor. However, if your case was dismissed, you were acquitted or someone else was arrested using your name then you may eligible for expungement and should seek the help of an expunge attorney.
How Long Does it Take to Expunge a Felony?
Generally, there is a short waiting period required before you can file a petition for expunction. Lower level offences tend to have a shorter waiting period than higher level offences but the duration is specific to the circumstances. Considering you and your expunge attorney have gathered the necessary documents and completed the required paperwork, you can expect to get a petition for expulsion before a judge in 40-60 days.
What Happens When Once the Felony is Expunged?
Once the order has been granted by a judge it may take a few weeks to months to seal your records and receive confirmation that records of the arrest have destroyed and removed. However, you can deny the arrest took place on employment applications straight away.
What if I Have Received a Deferred Adjudication or Probation?
In this case you will not qualify for expunction but may qualify for non-disclosure. Non-disclosure is similar to expunction in that you can deny the occurrence of the arrest to potential employers, however, unlike expunction the records aren’t destroyed but sealed from the public and remain available to law enforcement and can be used in any future prosecution.
The laws for expunction vary from state to state and the above is only valid for expungement in Texas. I would highly recommend obtaining a copy of your criminal record and if it is a valid option to seek expungement in order to greatly improve your chances of gaining employment, getting a mortgage or a loan and generally improving your prospects.