Electronic searches are a common part of life. Whether you are seeking employment, applying for housing, volunteering for an organization, or even making new acquaintances, people in Richardson are likely to plug your name into a search engine or criminal database to see what they find.
Either action could reveal information about criminal charges or other activity you might not even realize is on file. Fortunately, state law provides a process for expunging information and sealing records, which could help you avoid a great deal of embarrassment and potential problems.
However, not everyone is eligible for this procedure, and the process for expunging and sealing records can be difficult to manage without assistance from a qualified criminal attorney. A Richardson expunction lawyer may be able to help you understand the expungement requirements and procedures and determine whether clearing your record is a viable option.
Expunction Versus Nondisclosure
Expunction provides a great opportunity for a second chance, but it is not available in every circumstance. Those ineligible for expungement may be able to have their record sealed through an order of nondisclosure.
An expunction results in permanent removal of information regarding arrests, charges, and sometimes even convictions from a person’s criminal record. After receiving an expunction, an individual may legally deny that such an episode ever occurred because the legal record of it happening is wiped clean.
By contrast, an order of nondisclosure would not erase criminal records but would limit access to them. This is sometimes referred to as “sealing” the records. They would not be available to the general public or private agencies, but law enforcement and government agencies may still access those records. In some situations, such records may remain admissible in court as well.
Eligibility for Expungement
The rules regarding eligibility for expunction are set forth in Texas Crim. Pro. Code §55.01. All records and files relating to an arrest may be expunged if the case resulted in:
- Acquittal after trial
- An arrest but no charge
- Dismissal of charges
- Conviction for minor alcohol charges
- Conviction for minor school offenses
- Conviction for certain juvenile offenses
- Wrongful conviction due to identity theft
However, in order to be eligible, an individual must refrain from certain actions such as fleeing after release on bail. Expungement is not available for records that are related to other pending charges, or in situations where an adult has been convicted of a felony in the past five years.
In many cases, a waiting period applies before a record may be expunged. Because the requirements for expungement are so complex, it may be helpful to have an experienced Richardson expunction attorney review a record to determine whether expungement may be an option.
Procedures for Obtaining Expunction or Nondisclosure
Once eligibility is determined, the next step is to file a Petition for Expunction seeking an Order of Expunction from the district court. Certain information must be included in the petition, including identification of the arresting agency and all facilities or agencies that could have knowledge of the arrest. The petition should also be verified by notarization and contain a notice of hearing that may be filled in by the court.
The court where the petition is filed would schedule a hearing and notify all appropriate respondents. After the hearing, the court would grant expunction if all requirements have been met, and the judge would sign the prepared Order of Expunction.
The process for obtaining an Order of Nondisclosure is similar. However, the court may decide not to grant the order if the judge believes it would not be in the best interests of justice. A seasoned expungement lawyer in Richardson could provide further clarification about which procedure may be available and how each would proceed in a particular case.
Get Help from a Richardson Expunction Attorney
Even if you are eligible to have damaging information expunged from your record, the qualifying information must be properly presented to the correct court. Because the process is complicated, many applicants choose to work with an experienced Richardson expunction lawyer.
A knowledgeable attorney could advocate on your behalf and ensure all requirements are fulfilled to help you obtain expunction or nondisclosure. To learn how experienced legal counsel could help you clear your record, call now for a consultation.