Like most states, Texas law provides possible relief from your criminal arrest and charge record through the expungement (also known as expunction) process. Expunging your record can improve your life in many ways, including making it easier for you to find new employment, rental housing, or gain acceptance into educational or professional programs, among other things.
However, gaining an expungement does not necessarily mean that all records of your arrest and criminal case will permanently disappear and never come into play. Instead, there are some limits to a criminal record expungement that everyone seeking one should understand. Always discuss this process and its effects with an Austin expungement lawyer.
What an Expungement Means
If you are eligible for an expungement, the court can issue an order to all state agencies that have a record of your arrest or criminal charges. The order instructs most agencies to remove any reference of your arrest or subsequent criminal case from your record, which includes destroying any physical files or erasing the information from electronic records. Further, an expungement order prohibits agencies from using or disclosing this information to other parties.
Public records start generating when you are arrested, and the records keep piling up if you have a criminal case. Once you expunge your record, private parties can no longer obtain or access the public records of your arrest or charges in question. When asked if you have been arrested, you can honestly answer “no” if your record is expunged. This can help with job or apartment applications, among many other things. If you are under oath in a legal proceeding, you can answer that the record was expunged.
Not All Arrests Can be Expunged
Some records cannot be expunged, even if your charges were not dismissed. These include charges for:
- Sex crimes that require registration as a sex offender
- Domestic violence
- Other crimes of endangerment
Even if you are never convicted of these offenses, it is extremely difficult to get them removed from your record. However, if you are not eligible for expungement, you might be able to qualify for an order of nondisclosure. This is a less powerful – but still potentially beneficial – court order. Some state agencies can retain the record, but it will not be available to private parties.
In some cases, prosecutors can oppose expungements. This might be the case if they believe they need the records for a future prosecution or for other reasons. Your defense attorney might discuss a possible expungement with the prosecutor to make sure there are no unexpected obstacles before filing your petition.
Learn About Your Options from an Austin Criminal Defense Attorney
If you were wrongfully prosecuted or never even charged after an arrest, it can be beneficial to clear your record and your good name. The Austin expungement lawyers of Granger and Mueller PC can advise you of your rights and options, so please contact us online or call 512-474-9999 today.