Texas Expungement Guide
Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning Your Criminal Record
Expungement in Texas: The Complete Guide to Clearing Your Criminal Record
Expungement is the more commonly used term for a legal process called expunction. An expunction allows a person who was wrongfully arrested of a crime to remove all traces of that arrest from the State’s records. 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 Expunction in Texas?
Texas law provides for very strict requirements when dealing with granting expunctions. The principle behind expunctions 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 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
1. How Can I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?
The basic steps for expunging a criminal record in Texas are to:
1. Determine if you are eligible for expunction
2. File the petition with your local district court
3. Pay the statutory filing fees
3. Attend the hearing
4. File the expunction order with the court clerk
If you would like the process done for you, contact a Texas Expunction Lawyer.
2. How Does Expungement Clear Your Criminal Record?
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.
3. Does Your Criminal Record Clear After 7 Years?
People frequently ask if Texas has a “Seven Year Rule” stating that a criminal conviction will automatically fall off their record after seven years.
First, let me clarify that this “rule” applies to consumer reporting agencies. If you apply for a job, the employer may perform a background check using a consumer reporting agency. That agency reports their findings of public records.
Convictions remain on your criminal record forever and may be reported by the consumer reporting agency to your potential employer forever. However, if your case was dismissed, the seven year rule may apply to you. This means that the consumer report agency cannot report your arrests for cases that were dismissed more than seven years ago. However, if your employer checks your background through a state agency like Texas DPS, all arrests will appear – even if they were eventually dismissed.
4. How Long Does it Take to Expunge a Record in Texas?
The length of time it takes to expunge a record depends on several factors.
1. What type of court is the case filed in?
Felony and most misdemeanor expunctions are typically filed in Texas district courts. However, class C misdemeanor expunctions 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 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 expunction hearings and others will work on a looser schedule. The only sure thing is that the sooner you file, the sooner your expunction can be granted.
Expunctions 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.
5. How Much Does Expungement Cost in Texas?
Expungement cost typically consists of filing fees and attorney fees.
1. Filing fees: $300-$465
Filing fees are paid directly to the court and consist of fixed and variable fees. The fixed fees is typically around $300. The variable fee is dependent upon how many state agencies you need to serve the petition on. Service for each agency costs $15 and most of the petitions we file include serving anywhere from 6 to 11 agencies.
2. Attorney Fees: $995-$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 lowest pricing you’ll find for expungement services anywhere in Texas. We’ll even match or beat published offers.
We Charge $995.00 plus filing fees (determined by the court at the time of filing).
6. 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.
When an agency receives an expunction order, it must destroy all files and records related to the arrest. The agency can “destroy” 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.
7. How Long Does it Take to Clear Your Record After an Expungement?
There is no specified time limit for the agencies to return or destroy their records. However, they must destroy or send records to the court within on 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.
8. What Is The Next Step To Get My Record Expunged?
The first step is quick and easy. Simply take our free expungement eligibility test 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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