Both misdemeanor and felony convictions have serious collateral consequences. Many people with such records have a hard time obtaining certain professional licenses, finding a nice place to live, obtaining student financial aid, and finding a good job.
Negative credit information usually falls off your record after seven years, but criminal convictions are typically permanent. Additionally, courts do not automatically seal or expunge juvenile records when the defendant turns eighteen or twenty-one.
Such relief is available, but only if a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney requests it. Frequently, if a lawyer does enough groundwork, expunction petitions are unopposed.
Arrested and Never Charged
Some criminal cases fall through the cracks, especially in large jurisdictions like Tarrant County. Paperwork gets lost in the shuffle, particularly if the charge originated in a small, outlying community. Other times, cases with proof problems or witness problems get moved to the back burner and never get picked up again.
Prosecutors dismiss cases for various reasons. Some defendants complete pretrial diversion programs and prosecutors fulfil their end of the bargain. Other times, prosecutors dismiss cases for discretionary or political reasons. Technically, such dismissals might qualify for expunction, or at least record sealing. If the state dismissed the case because of evidentiary problems, that’s even better.
As identity thieves become more sophisticated, these expunctions become more common. Generally, the petitioner has the burden of proof to show that someone stole the petitioner’s identity. This category often goes hand-in-hand with the dismissal category, which was discussed above.
Certain Juvenile Crimes
As mentioned, courts do not automatically erase juvenile records. The good news is that the following crimes are expungeable regardless of the disposition:
Failing to attend school, and
MIP (Minor in Possession of alcohol).
Many other juvenile infractions might be expungeable as well, if the disposition fit into one of the other expungement categories.
Executive pardons are easier to obtain than people think, especially if the defendant has completed the sentence. The offense committed, or the circumstances of the offense, must simply jive with the governor’s political agenda. Former President Barack Obama pardoned thousands of people, mostly defendants who received harsh drug sentences in the 1990s and early 2000s.
If a judge or jury acquits the defendant, the record is expungeable. The basis is irrelevant. The same thing is true if the Court of Criminal Appeals overturns the conviction. If a lower appellate court overturns a conviction, the result might be expungeable if the state does not attempt to undo that decision.
This category is related to the first one. Sometimes, authorities arrest people but do not press formal charges if they assist an ongoing investigation. If that’s not the case and the statute of limitations has expired, the arrest is expungeable.
Criminal convictions are usually, but not always, permanent. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. After-hours and home visits are available.