All criminal convictions have direct as well as collateral consequences. Many offenses are crimes of moral turpitude. CMTs could have immigration and other consequences. Additionally, criminal convictions usually make it difficult to obtain student aid, pursue certain professional occupations, or even find a good place to live.
Expungement may be available, pursuant to Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Generally, if the defendant has no criminal record, was not charged with a prohibited offense, and received one of the following favorable results, the judge may expunge the records.
The CCP is a bit unclear as to the specifics regarding dismissal-based expungements. If the prosecutor dismissed the case because of a lack of probable cause, the defendant is a veteran, or the defendant completed a certain pretrial diversion program, expungement is immediately available. In other cases, the defendant may have to wait until the statute of limitations expires. Generally, the statute of limitations is one year for misdemeanors and three years for felonies. Even then, the judge may not grant the petition.
Contrary to popular myth, the state does not automatically purge juvenile records once the defendant turns 18 or 21. In fact, in many cases, it is impossible to expunge the records, unless a Weatherford criminal defense attorney obtained a positive result. But certain cases, such as failure to attend school and MIP (minor in possession of alcohol), may be expungeable upon request.
Gubernatorial and Presidential pardons are not as hard to obtain as some people think. Former President Barack Obama issued over 3,000 pardons during his eight years in office. Generally, if the defendant has completed the sentence and the offense or prosecution jives with the governor’s political agenda, the governor will probably issue a pardon. Then, it’s up to the defendant to file a request for expungement.
Acquittal at the Trial Court Level
There is a difference between morally guilty and legally guilty. Legal guilt is the only thing that matters. Frequently, there was not enough evidence to convict the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt or there was a technicality, like a failure to timely Mirandize the defendant.
All “not guilty” verdicts are an expungeable result, but not all appellate victories are expungeable. Frequently, the appeals court sends the case back down with instructions for retrial. If that happens, the case continues, unless the prosecutor elects not to pursue the case for whatever reason.
Expungement erases criminal records. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Parker County and nearby jurisdictions.