HOW TO EXPUNGE AND SEAL A TEXAS CRIMINAL RECORD
Don't Let Your Past Hurt Your Future
Living with a Texas criminal record can be extremely difficult. Texas makes criminal records available to the public via individual counties, and also the (Texas Department of Public Safety), meaning that your personal information can be accessed by anybody with an Internet connection and a few dollars.
This availability may obviously severely limit your opportunities to get the job or housing you want, but a Texas criminal record can also make other things difficult as well, such as obtaining professional licensing and traveling. Fortunately, Texas law allows for the sealing, expungement and setting aside of many criminal records. However, many Texans do not understand their rights, and many more have few resources to take advantage of these post-conviction remedies.
Know Your Options
Texas provides a few methods to deal with a criminal record, so it’s important to review the specific circumstances surrounding the offenses on your criminal record to determine your best options. This area of Texas law has undergone quite a bit of changes over the last decade, so it can be hard to keep up with all the changes. For example, until very recently, you could not seal or expunge DWI convictions, which is now possible thanks to House Bill 3016.
Texas generally allows for the expungement, sealing, and setting aside of arrest records, misdemeanor convictions, and felony convictions in many situations. It’s very important to understand what the best approach is for you, though.
Texas Expungementarrow_drop_downLearn More Texas Expungement
Expungements are available in a variety of situations, but they are generally intended to provide a remedy for situations where you were not found guilty. There are some exceptions to this general rule, but that is the best way to distinguish where expungements apply instead of record sealing. For example, those that have successfully completed deferred adjudication sentences for Class C Misdemeanors generally qualify for expungement.
Texas Conviction Set Asidearrow_drop_downLearn More Texas Conviction Set Aside
Texas Conviction Set Aside
Setting aside a conviction is typically a more involved process than expunging or sealing a record. However, it is often the only available post-conviction remedy, and it does have the advantage of restoring your firearm rights.
Texas Juvenile Record Sealingarrow_drop_downLearn More Texas Juvenile Record Sealing
Texas Juvenile Record Sealing
After the passage of SB 1304, many low-level juvenile records may be automatically sealed, or sealed without application to the courts. Chapter 58 of the Juvenile Justice Code requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to certify to the applicable juvenile probation department that specific juvenile records need to be sealed automatically. The applicable juvenile probation department must determine whether juvenile records are eligible to be sealed without the need for you to petition a court or criminal justice agency.
This Information is for You
Since the majority of people reading this aren’t lawyers, we’ve tried to simplify the legal jargon on our website, so regular people may follow along and get the information needed to understand their rights. However, before we get started, we should be clear that some of this information can get complicated, and, in many cases, it’s best to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
To help you understand your rights, our lawyers have developed a tool that can be helpful in figuring out your options. This tool can’t be perfectly accurate in every situation, but our lawyers have invested substantial time and resources working to make it as accurate as possible.
You can get started by using our Secure Eligibility Test, or you can give us a call at (844) 947-3732 to see if our legal staff is available for a free consultation. Be aware that our staff is often busy with current clients and a high volume of calls and appointments. If you’re serious about getting rid of your record, your best bet is to take our secure, confidential Eligibility Test and then schedule an appointment to discuss your results and options.
Legal Effects of Expunging Sealing, and Setting Aside Your Records
Although Texas law doesn’t actually use the term expungement (it uses the term “Expunction” instead), Texas law permits you to seal certain misdemeanor convictions, set aside both misdemeanor and felony convictions, seal cases with deferred adjudication sentences, expunge arrest records and some convictions, and also seal a variety of juvenile records.
How will expunging, sealing, or setting aside my conviction, or arrest record help me get a job?arrow_drop_down
The exact effect depends on which post-conviction remedy, but all three permit you to legally state that you have not been convicted of a crime, which will substantially help you with employment. Expunctions result in a complete destruction of your records, so they’re the preferred method, as nobody will be able to get to them again (in most cases). Record sealing has the same practical effect in most cases, but there are certain Texas criminal justice and licensing agencies that can obtain special access to your records. This is a limited group of agencies, and even with them, a sealed record still offers valuable benefits. If you want more information on what state agencies can access sealed records, visit our Record Sealing Page.
Conviction set-asides will generally appear in a background check, but it will appear as a dismissed case instead of a conviction. Obtaining a set-aside indicates that you’re no longer a “criminal” and releases you from the judgement of guilt. Unfortunately, it does not completely destroy or remove your record from the public record. Instead, when you are granted a set-aside, the court vacates your conviction and dismisses the charges.
Will expunging, sealing, or setting aside my conviction and arrest records restore Second Amendment Right to own and possess a firearm?arrow_drop_down
Texas is an interesting state when it comes to restoring ﬁrearm rights. When convicted of a felony, the State of Texas will take away your ﬁrearm rights, however, they are automatically restored after 5 years has passed since you’ve completed your sentence. However, when your rights are restored, they’re only restored for the premises at which you live. Further, this has no effect on your federal ﬁrearm rights, and federal law enforcement could still conceivable prosecute you for felon in possession of a ﬁrearm, despite the Texas restoring your right to have a ﬁrearm where you live. Currently, the only way to restore your ﬁrearm rights in Texas is by setting aside your conviction or obtaining a pardon from the governor.
Expungements are typically only available in situations that did not result in a ﬁnding of guilt, so a charge that you can expunge isn’t something that would restrict your ﬁrearm rights in the ﬁrst place, and the expungement won’t have an effect on your ﬁrearm rights. Unfortunately, sealing a record does not restore your ﬁrearm rights. As long as there is not another reason that your ﬁrearm rights have been taken away, setting aside a conviction that took your ﬁrearm rights should restore them.
We will go into more detail relating to restoring Second Amendment rights when discussing Conviction Set Asides, but restoring ﬁrearm rights typically involves both state and federal law that should be handled by an experienced lawyer. The lawyers in our ﬁrm regularly handle complex ﬁrearm rights restoration issues, so a good ﬁrst step in exploring whether you can restore your ﬁrearm rights would be to take our Secure Eligibility Test, and then if appropriate, setting up a time to speak with our legal staff about how to proceed.
What You Need to Do to Get Rid of Your Record
If you are tired of having a criminal record hold you back, reach out to us by taking our Secure Eligibility Test or by giving us a call at (844) 947-3732. Our law firm has helped thousands of people with criminal records move on in life, leaving many of the negative effects of a criminal record behind. Our experienced attorneys and legal staff are here to help you figure out what criminal record clearing services best fit your needs, and then help you accomplish your goals. Using our secure, confidential Eligibility Test is the best way to get the process started.
Some of the potential benefits of expunging your criminal record in Texas include:
- Removing a finding of guilt from your criminal record to help you get a better job
- Becoming eligible for professional licenses you previously did not qualify for
- Restoring your Second Amendment Right to bear arms
- No longer being treated as a felon
- Increased eligibility for student loans, housing assistance, and government programs
- Improving your ability to obtain higher-paying job opportunities
- Improving access and admission to college and other educational resources
Each of Texas's methods for dealing with your criminal record have different requirements and are meant for different circumstances. To move forward, it’s important to determine what Texas criminal record services are available to you, and then select the services that will provide the greatest benefit. Eastman Meyler, PC is here to help you navigate this very specific area of Texas criminal law, fight to protect your rights, and assist you in moving forward in life without the effects of a Texas criminal record.