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Expunction is the process of having an arrest cleared or taken off of your record. Not all arrests can be expunged, but if charges were never filed, or charges were filed but have since been dismissed, you may be eligible for expunction. Convictions that have been pardoned are also eligible for expunction, and in some instances, the prosecution will recommend expunction before the case is tried.
Expunction can be a complicated process that involves a lot of paperwork and dealing with the courts. If the process is not followed specifically, or inaccurate information is submitted somewhere along the way, it could set the entire process back years. Because of this, if you have an arrest on your record that you would like cleared, it is recommended that you seek the help of an Odessa expunction lawyer as soon as possible to help dismiss the charges from your record.
The Process of Expunction
Before starting the expunction process, individuals must first find out if they are eligible. In addition to the circumstances above, there are also certain requirements set out in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure regarding expunctions. Only if the arrest in question meets these criteria will it be eligible. An Odessa expunction attorney will be able to help clients sort through the legal-speak within this chapter to determine whether they are eligible to have their record cleared.
If a person is deemed eligible, an experienced Odessa expunction attorney can help fill out the Petition for Expunction, as well as the Order of Expunction. The Petition includes personal information, as well as any and all information pertaining to the arrest. This form will be submitted to the court that filed the original arrest. After submitting the form, petitioners will be notified by mail of the date, time, and location of their expunction hearing.
Anyone who is listed on the Petition may also attend the hearing and argue for or against the expunction. Expunction hearings typically occur at least 30 days after the Petition has been filed.
Approval of the Petition
If the expunction is approved at the hearing, the judge will sign the Order of Expunction and the court will send it to the appropriate court and stage agencies to remove the record. Every person listed on the Petition will also be ordered to remove the arrest from any records of it that they may be keeping.
The entire expunction process typically takes four-to-nine months in Texas, if there are no major complications along the way. While waiting months may seem drastic just to have a record cleared, it is definitely worth it not to have a mistake follow a person around for the rest of their life.
Importance of an Attorney
While court clerks can give you all the information you need, and tell you when you are expected to appear in court, it is crucial to hire an experienced lawyer to help you through the process.
Mistakes are just going to hold the process up, and in Texas, if a Petition for Expunction is denied, the decision of the judge is final and the case cannot be refiled. Do not take your one chance at expunction alone. Contact an experienced Odessa expunction attorney today to begin preparing your case.