The court has dismissed the criminal case against you, whether through a deferred adjudication program or another mechanism. While that is certainly good news, you should be aware that, without further action, your arrest record remains available to employers, landlords and other people you may not wish to share this information with.
In Texas, an expunction completely destroys your arrest records and any other case documents. Thus, no one, including law enforcement, will know that you were ever arrested and charged. Once you obtain an expunction, you can state on employment or rental applications that you were never arrested.
What cases qualify for expunction?
Texas law limits expunction to particular types of cases. You can get expunction if you obtained an acquittal at trial or a dismissal at any previous stage, you completed a pre-trial diversion program, you were never charged after your arrest, or another person used your name without permission when he got arrested.
What happens if only some of my charges qualify?
You can run into problems if you faced multiple charges but only some of them meet the requirements for expunction. For example, you were accused of DWI and drug possession. Even if the judge dismissed the DWI charge immediately, if you get convicted of drug possession, you would not be able to expunge the dismissed DWI charge either.
What types of probation qualify?
Certain kinds of deferred disposition and deferred prosecution cases can be eligible for expunction as well. Prosecutors may offer these options for first-time offenders on non-violent felonies or Class A and B misdemeanors who complete a particular program. Some courts offer this option for Class C misdemeanors as well. You may also obtain an expunction if you got deferred adjudication (a type of probation) for a Class C misdemeanor.
Can I get expunction if I take a plea?
Pleading guilty or no-contest counts as a conviction and makes you ineligible for expunction. For this reason, among many others, you should never accept a plea deal before discussing it extensively with your attorney.
Each court has its own rules and procedures for filing a petition for expunction. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you during this process and draft the appropriate paperwork to maximize the chances of success.