Especially if the offense was a crime of moral turpitude, like assault or theft, a criminal conviction makes it difficult to pursue certain careers, obtain student aid, and do other things which most people take for granted.
Fortunately, Texas has a very broad expungement law which applies in the following situations. If your disposition does not qualify for expungement, talk to a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney about record sealing. This procedure is almost as good as expungement and is available in even more situations.
No Charges Filed
Especially in large jurisdictions like Tarrant County, criminal offenses sometimes fall through the cracks. Defendants can benefit from these paperwork errors if they act at the right time. Once the statute of limitations expires, an attorney can file an expungement petition. If a lawyer files the petition too early, prosecutors may notice their error and file charges.
Sometimes, prosecutors dismiss charges because they are too busy to try the case or for another such reason. Expungement may not be available in these situations. But expungement is an option if:
The defendant completed a veteran's treatment program,
Prosecutors dismissed the charges after the defendant completed a pretrial diversion program, or
There was no probable cause.
The statute defines a lack of probable cause as "mistake, false information, or other similar reason indicating absence of probable cause at the time of the dismissal to believe the person committed the offense."
MIP and Other Juvenile Alcohol Offenses
Minor in Possession of alcohol is one of the few expungeable juvenile convictions. Even if the defendant pleaded guilty and received probation, these offenses may be expungeable.
Contrary to popular myth, the court does not automatically expunge or seal juvenile records once the person turns 18. Also, criminal convictions do not fall off your record after seven years. Some employment background check companies do not count records more than seven years old, but the records still exist.
Failure to Attend School
The same rules apply to juvenile convictions for failure to attend school. A few other misdemeanors are expungeable as well, if the defendant was convicted in juvenile court.
This expungement ground is a bit like the dismissal for lack of probable cause discussed above.
Many defendants give officers false names or even fake drivers' licenses or other identifying documents. If a person proves that s/he was wrongfully arrested and prosecuted for a crime and someone else was arrested, charged, and convicted of the crime, expungement is available.
Favorable Court Verdict
A not-guilty finding in the trial court is expungeable. A hung jury is not an expungeable result, and neither is conviction of a lesser-included offense.
Additionally, expungement is available if the Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the highest criminal appeals court in Texas, overturns the conviction.
These pardons are easier to obtain than many people think. If the conviction is very old, the nature of the offense lines up with the governor's political agenda, and the defendant applies at the right time, the governor often grants pardons.
Expungement and other such relief is often available in Texas. 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.