Do You Need an Expungement?
An expungement is a civil remedy that destroys a record of an arrest. Not everyone is eligible for an expungement. But, even if you are eligible, not everyone needs an expungement. Whether or not an expungement is right for you depends on your eligibility and your goals.
ELIGIBILITY: Are You Eligible?
Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure governs expungements.
In general, there are 2 factors that should be considered to determine whether you are eligible for an expungement: outcome of the arrest and time.
OUTCOME OF ARREST
An expungement is only possible after an arrest if
- You went to trial, and you were acquitted
- You went to trial, and you were convicted, but later pardoned
- You were convicted of an offense committed before September 1, 2021, under Section 46.02(a)
- You have been released and the charge (if you were charged)
- AND it has not resulted in a final conviction
- AND is no longer pending
- AND there was no court-ordered community supervision for the offense
- You were arrested, but no charge or charges were ever filed, and the statute of limitations has expired
- You were arrested, a charge or charges were filed AND
- you completed veterans’ treatment court OR
- you completed a mental health court program OR
- you completed a pretrial intervention program authorized under Section 76.011 OR
- the charge was dismissed due to mistake, false information, or other similar reason so that there was no probable cause
- the indictment or information was void
There is a certain amount of time that must pass before you can seek an expungement. This is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations must expire (the required time must pass) before you can seek an expungement from the court. In general, felonies have a minimum 3-year statute of limitations, Class A or B misdemeanors have a minimum 1 year statute of limitations, and Class C misdemeanors have a minimum 180 day statute of limitations.
These are the basic requirements for expungements, but this list is not exhaustive. If your case does not match these requirements, you may still be eligible for an expungement. Contact an attorney to discuss your specific case.
GOALS: How Could an Expungement Help You?
Most people get expungements for work related reasons. Oftentimes, having an arrest, even without a conviction, can create issues for you when job hunting or when seeking a promotion at a current job. When employers do background checks for hiring purposes, an arrest will show up on your record unless it has been expunged. This is true even if you were acquitted (went to trial and found not guilty) or if your case was dismissed. If a prior arrest is keeping you from getting the job you want or moving up in your current workplace, an expungement might be the answer.
Some people get expungements for family related reasons. For example, school districts often run background checks on parents or family members who want to volunteer at their children or grandchildren’s school. An arrest on your record could be a red flag to a school district and may prevent you from volunteering or attending a field trip. This is also true for many volunteer organizations and churches who often require background checks prior to volunteering. If a prior arrest is keeping you from volunteering or being engaged in your children’s lives, reach out to an attorney for help.
Finally, personal feelings about a past arrest is a common reason to get an expungement. A lot of times, an individual who is arrested is later found to be not guilty or their case is dismissed. In these situations, it can be frustrating to know that there is a record of an arrest that you consider to be unfair or unjust.
If you believe that you may be eligible for an expungement and it would meet your goals, please reach out to an attorney today.
The information in this post is not legal advice. It is for educational purposes only. Please reach out to an attorney to speak about your specific case.
Texas State Law Library: https://guides.sll.texas.gov/expunctions-and-non-disclosure
Texas Law Help: https://texaslawhelp.org/guide/i-need-to-clear-an-arrest-from-my-record-expunction
Dallas County Website: https://www.dallascounty.org/government/district-clerk/expunction-nondisclosure.php