In many cases, criminal convictions have lifelong negative consequences. For example, certain convictions male it impossible to obtain certain licenses or obtain student financial aid. Many records in Texas are expungeable, meaning that all paperwork related to the case goes away. However, these situations are rather limited, as outlined below. Criminal convictions do not fall off records after seven years or any other period of time. In most cases, they remain forever.
Informal expungement is easier to obtain. Many defendants receive deferred adjudication or, following a waiting period, have their records sealed. Typically, the arrest records remain visible, but judicial records are, for all intents and purposes, invisible.
Briefly, there is a big difference between a sealed record and deferred adjudication. If the judge seals the records, they are completely invisible. But in deferred disposition matters, records indicate that the case went to court, but the charges were ultimately dismissed.
In growing areas like Parker County, cases sometimes fall through the cracks. That’s especially true if the arresting agency was a small police department, like Agnes or Poolville, and the infraction was minor.
Pretrial dismissal may be the most common reason for expungement. Generally, the dismissal must be due to a lack of probable cause, such as an identity theft situation or if the arresting officer leaves the jurisdiction. Pretrial diversion and prosecutorial discretion dismissals are usually not expungeable results.
Contrary to popular myth, courts do not automatically seal or expunge records when defendants turn eighteen or twenty-one. There are some exceptions, such as:
Failure to attend school,
MIP (Minor In Possession of alcohol), and
Some other nonviolent property offenses, such as tagging.
In some cases, it may be possible to expunge these records while the defendant is still a juvenile. But generally, it is easier to expunge juvenile records after the defendant turns eighteen.
Finding of Not Guilty
Such a finding could occur in the trial court or in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Trial court not guilty findings almost always involve a lack of evidence. Appeals not guilty verdicts usually involve a procedural error. For that reason, the court could either send the matter back for a retrial or throw out the conviction. Only the latter result is expungeable.
These outcomes are not as uncommon as people think. In fact, it may be easier to obtain a pardon than a not-guilty verdict or a dismissal. An attorney just needs to use the proper approach.
Typically, if the defendant’s conviction and sentence are politically offensive to the governor, sufficient time has passed, and an attorney makes the request at the right time, the governor is usually willing to at least commute the sentence.
Record expungement is available in many cases. 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.