Many states have extremely complex rules regarding what offenses are expungeable and which ones are not. But in Texas, the rules are fairly straightforward. So, at your initial consultation, a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney should be able to tell right away if you are eligible for this kind of relief. If the lawyer hesitates, you probably need to find someone else.
Expunction means the complete erasure of all arrest and court records related to the case. Once the judge signs the order, it’s usually up to the defendant to send copies of the order to the DPS, police department, and any other entity that has arrest or conviction-related records. The agency must either destroy these records or give them to the defendant.
No Charges Filed
In Texas, the statute of limitations is generally two years for a misdemeanor and between three and seven years for a felony. If prosecutors fail to file charges within that time period, they typically cannot file charges at all. So, if the statute of limitation runs, the arrest records may be expungeable.
Case Dismissed Before Trial
There are basically two types of dismissal in Texas. Substantive dismissals involve things like a lack of evidence or a lack of probable cause. Discretionary dismissals are basically procedural. Perhaps the prosecutor does not have time to work on the case, there are technical issues that are too difficult to correct, or the defendant completed pretrial diversion. Typically, expungement is always available for substantive dismissals, and generally available for discretionary dismissals.
Favorable Final Outcome
If a judge or jury finds the defendant not guilty, the charge and arrest are always expungeable. The reason for the verdict does not matter. The same thing applies if the defendant receives an executive pardon or an appeals court overturns the conviction. These things do not happen very often, but they do happen.
Contrary to popular myth, juvenile convictions do not automatically go away when the defendant turns 18. However, most juvenile crimes are fairly easy to expunge, regardless of the circumstances or outcome. That’s especially true for failure to attend school, tagging property, MIP (minor in possession of alcohol), and a few other such infractions. If the defendant was tried as an adult, the infraction must independently qualify for expungement.
People use fake names a lot. Other times, officers misunderstand the defendant, at least initially. Prosecutors normally dismiss these charges once they discover the error. But the records remain behind unless they are expunged.
Most felonies and misdemeanors are expungeable under the right circumstances. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Tarrant County and nearby jurisdictions.