Texas Expungement Guide
Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning Your Criminal Record
Expungement in Texas
Expungement is the more commonly used term for a legal process called expunction. An expunction allows a person who had their criminal case dismissed to remove it from public databases of criminal records in Texas. While the concept is simple, the process can be somewhat convoluted and intimidating to those unfamiliar with it – even experienced attorneys. This guide is for non-attorneys and attorneys alike who are trying to navigate the Texas expungement laws. This page will give an overview of Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which governs how expunctions are granted and how the orders are carried out.
Who is Eligible for an Expungement in Texas?
Texas criminal law provides for very strict requirements when dealing with granting expunctions. The principle behind expungement is basically one of fairness:
A person wrongfully arrested for an offense should be allowed to remove all traces of that offense from the State’s records.
Although this is a matter of basic fairness, entitlement to an expunction in Texas is governed purely by the Texas law cited in the first paragraph of this article. Below we will give a general breakdown of the basic requirements for expungement in Texas
3 Basic Requirements For Texas Expungements
#1: You Were Placed Under Arrest
This section can be misleading because you don’t have to actually be physically arrested and taken to jail. The term used in the statute is “custodial or noncustodial arrest.” This is typically understood as “actual submission to an assertion of authority. By appearing in court to contest the charges against you, you meet the definition of “arrest” under the meaning of the statute.
Summary: You were either arrested or given a citation and responded to it.
#2: Your Case Was Disposed of Successfully
1. Acquittal: You were acquitted (found not guilty) by the trial court or Court of Criminal Appeals, and you were not convicted of and do not remain subject to prosecution for another offense arising out of the same criminal episode.
2. Pardon: You were convicted and later pardoned and you were not convicted of and do not remain subject to prosecution for another offense arising out of the same criminal episode.
3. You Were Released of the Charge
3.1. The charge did not result in a final conviction.
3.2. The charge is no longer pending.
3.3. You were released with no final conviction, no charges pending, and without court-ordered community supervision under CCP Chapter 42A for an offense other than a Class C misdemeanor.
#3: One of the Following Applies to Your Case
1. No indictment or information: No grand jury indictment or criminal information was filed against you and the waiting period has passed.
– Class C misdemeanor waiting period: 180 days
– Class A & B misdemeanor waiting period: 1 year
– Felony waiting period: 3 years
2. or The Indictment or Information was dismissed and the court finds mistake or fraud.
3. or you have successfully completed pretrial diversion or Veterans Court.
4. or that statute of limitations has expired.
Texas Expungement FAQ
How long do felonies stay on your record in Texas?
Under Texas law, criminal charges including felonies and misdemeanors stay on your record permanently. This is true even if the charges were dismissed, you were found not guilty, or you successfully completed deferred adjudication. There is a common myth that criminal charges are automatically removed after 7 years, however, this is simply not true.
What crimes can be expunged in Texas?
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows for a large number of crimes to be expunged, but your eligibility for expungement is less about the particular crime you were charged with and more about the outcome of your case.
If you were found not guilty by a judge or jury and the statute of limitations has passed, you should qualify for expunction.
If your case was charged but not filed, dismissed, or “no-billed” by a grand jury and the statute of limitations (along with any applicable waiting period) has passed, you should be eligible for expungement.
What crimes cannot be expunged?
A dismissed charge cannot be expunged if the statute of limitations has not expired. The statute of limitations is the amount of time the State of Texas has to prosecute the case. The amount of time is different for every case.
Felonies: 3 years
Class A & B Misdemeanors: 2 years
Class C Misdemeanors: 0 to 180 days
See exceptions below:
No statute of limitations:
- Murder and manslaughter
- Sexual assault or aggravated assault
- Offenses against young children
- Leaving the scene of an accident which resulted in death
- Human trafficking
- Theft of any estate by an executor, administrator, guardian, or trustee with intent to defraud
- Theft by a public servant of government property over which he exercises control in his official capacity
- Forgery or the uttering, using, or passing of forged instruments
- Injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual punishable as a felony of the first degree under Penal Code Section 22.04
- Sexual assault if not under the no limitation or 18th birthday limitation
- Misapplication of fiduciary property or property of a financial institution
- Securing execution of a document by deception
- Violation under Tax Code Section 162.403(22)-(39)
- Theft, burglary, robbery
- Injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual not punishable as a felony of the first degree under Penal Code Section 22.04
- Abandoning or endangering a child
- Insurance fraud
Can a felony conviction be expunged in Texas?
A felony conviction cannot be expunged in Texas unless the case was overturned, the defendant was acquitted by an appellate court, or the defendant was pardoned by the Governor. If the felony resulted in a conviction as a result of deferred adjudication or community supervision probation, it may be eligible for an order of nondisclosure (record sealing).
How does expungement work in Texas?
An expungement (or expunction) is a signed order from a judge that is legally served upon stage agencies throughout Texas that have a copy of your criminal record. An expunction order, usually effective for a single offense, forces state agencies and private companies to destroy records of your arrest, whether they are stored electronically or on hard copy.
Here are the basic steps for expunging a Texas criminal record:
1. Determine if you are eligible for expunction
2. File a petition for expunction with your local district court
3. Pay the statutory filing fees
3. Attend the hearing
4. File the expunction order with the court clerk
Does your criminal record clear after seven years?
People frequently ask if Texas has a “Seven Year Rule” stating that a criminal conviction will automatically be removed from their criminal history.
First, let me clarify that this “rule” applies to consumer reporting agencies – not state criminal justice agencies like the Texas Department of Public Safety. If you apply for a job, potential employers may perform a background check using a consumer reporting agency. That agency reports their findings of criminal records.
Convictions remain on your criminal record forever and background checks may report them on your criminal history indefinitely. However, if your case was dismissed, the seven-year rule may apply to you. This means that the consumer reporting agency cannot report your arrests for cases that were dismissed more than seven years ago. However, if your potential employer checks your background through a state agency like Texas DPS, all arrests will appear – even if they were dismissed more than 7 years ago.
How long does expunction take in Texas?
The expunction timeline depends on several factors.
1. What type of court is the case filed in?
Felony and most misdemeanor expungement are typically filed in Texas district courts. However, class C misdemeanor cases are usually filed in Municipal or Justice courts. These smaller courts typically get to expunction cases much faster than other courts.
2. What county is the petition for expunction being filed in?
Different Texas cities and counties have varying caseloads. Courts usually work on a first-in, first-out basis but may prioritize cases by type. Some courts and specific judges will hold regularly scheduled criminal record sealing hearings and others will work on a looser schedule. The only sure thing is that the sooner you file your case, the sooner your request can be granted.
Cases we have handled have taken anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months. We do our best to expedite the process for our clients, but most of the time is spent waiting on the court.
How much does it cost to expunge a criminal charge in Texas?
For an expunction in Texas, the main costs are filing fees and attorney fees.
1. Filing fees & Service Fee: $450-$550
Filing fees are paid directly to the court and consist of fixed and variable fees. The fixed fee is typically around $350. The variable fee is dependent upon how many state agencies you need to serve the petition on. Service for each agency typically costs $15 and most of the petitions we file include serving anywhere from 6 to 11 agencies.
2. Attorney Fees: $1,150-$3,000.
Expungement pricing varies from one law firm to the next. Make sure that you know the true cost of your expungement (attorneys fees + filing fees + court costs) before hiring an expungement lawyer. We offer clear, transparent pricing and we believe it’s the best value you’ll find for expungement services anywhere in Texas.
We Charge $1,150 plus filing fees (determined by the court at the time of filing).
What happens after the expunction order is granted?
Once an expunction order is final, the clerk of the court must send a certified copy of the order to each of the state agencies named in the petition for expunction.
When an agency receives an expunction order, it must destroy all files and criminal records related to the arrest. The agency can “destroy” criminal records either by returning them to the court, redacting all identifying information, or physically destroying the entire file. They must remove criminal information from computer databases and indexes.
After the agency has reviewed its files, it must return any files not destroyed to the court. The agency must notify the court of its compliance with the court’s order. The court may return the files to the petitioner or keep them in a secure area prior to destruction. The court must then destroy those files.
How long does it take to clear your record after the expungement?
There is no specified time limit for the agencies to return or destroy a criminal record. However, they must destroy or send the entire criminal record to the court within one year of the expunction being granted. In reality, agencies typically destroy records much sooner than one year. We also notify private agencies to destroy their records and they usually do so in a timely manner.
What is the next step to get my record expunged?
The first step is quick and easy. Simply take our free expungement eligibility test or call us to find out if you are eligible for expunction. It only takes two minutes.
Ready to put the past behind you?
Your Next Step Is Find Out if Your Record Can Be Cleared
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