Being implicated in a crime can have life altering ramifications, with criminal records often excluding well meaning citizens from many high paying jobs, esteemed universities, and even housing leases. Despite being found innocent in the eyes of the law, many are still devastated by the effects of the criminal justice system due to an unjustified arrest or conviction remaining on their record. Luckily, for those wrongfully accused, there is a process known as expungement that removes the negative implications often associated with arrest. Keep reading to learn more about what expungement is and the steps required to expunge a criminal record with a lawyer in Williamson County Texas.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is the process of legally removing an offense from one’s criminal record. This results in the destruction of any physical files regarding said offense and the removal of the offense from all online databases. Those with expunged records are fully absolved of a criminal history and legally allowed to deny that they were arrested. In Williamson County Texas, a lawyer can assist in expunging ones criminal record for any case in which:
- An arrest was made but was not followed up with formal charges
- Charges were dismissed
- An acquittal or pardon was reached
- Sentencing occurred as a juvenile
The expungement process is done for arrests and convicted crimes cannot be removed from a record unless the conviction was overturned. If your case corresponds with any of these factors, here’s a rundown of what to expect when working with a lawyer to expunge your criminal record in Williamson County Texas.
Application Waiting Period:
Before you hire a lawyer to apply for record expungement, it is important to know that you have surpassed the application’s mandatory waiting period and are eligible to apply for expungement. The waiting period to apply for an expunction differs depending on your case, and if your case has been pardoned, dismissed, acquitted, or overturned there is no waiting period. For Class C misdemeanors the waiting period is usually 180 days after arrest, with Class A and B misdemeanors usually having a year long waiting period and felonies having a 3 to 5 year long waiting period.
Petition for Expungement:
If fully eligible, to begin the expungement process you must first file a petition. Filing an expungement petition in Texas costs around 300 to 600 dollars, but petitions should reserve an additional $1500 to $3000 for the guidance of an expungement attorney. The petition should include information such as the charges, the circumstances, date, and location of the arrest, the arresting authority, and a list of all the agencies that may have the arrest record. Once you have completed and notarized your petition, you will have to file it with either the municipal, district, or county court depending on the charges.
Court Hearing and Order of Expunction:
After filing an expungement petition, you will have to wait at least 30 days for a hearing appointment. At this hearing, those listed as having a record of your arrest will be given an opportunity to contest the expunction. If you are granted an expungement, an Order of Expunction will be signed by the judge and issued to all agencies with a record of the (now expunged) arrest. Your record should be clear from any background check databases within 60 to 90 days of the court order, with agencies taking up to 12 months to fully destroy arrest records.
If your case is ineligible for expunction but you have completed deferred adjudication you are likely eligible for a nondisclosure agreement. In Texas, a defendant can agree to deferred adjudication (commonly known as probation) and upon completion can have their case dismissed by the court. In these instances, a defendant cannot have their record expunged but is usually eligible for a nondisclosure order unless charged with a violent or heinous crime.
A nondisclosure order will not fully destroy your records, but will limit your records accessibility, bringing many of the same benefits as an Order of Expunction. A nondisclosure order is filed in the same manner as an expunction and if granted seals your records from all but government agencies.
If you’re from Georgetown and your case is eligible for an expunction or nondisclosure order don’t hesitate to find a lawyer to expunge your criminal record in Williamson County Texas.