Mr. Eastman serves as the firm’s managing partner, and is licensed to practice law in California, Oregon, and Texas.
Sam has helped thousands of clients expunge, seal, and set-aside records across the country, and has a passion for criminal justice reform. Previously, Mr. Eastman represented a number of corporate clients, focusing on tax law, mergers and acquisitions, and a variety of corporate transactions.
Mr. Eastman earned his JD and LLM from the University of San Diego School of Law, and his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon.
TEXAS CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNGEMENT SERVICES
Your Past Mistakes Will Remain Public Until You Seal Them
When you’re arrested in Texas, a criminal record is created with the Texas Department of Public Safety. These records are then forwarded to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, making the records publicly available when conducting a background check. An expungement is the best type of post-conviction relief available under Texas law, as it destroys your criminal record instead of just sealing it.
Texas law uses the term Expunction instead of Expungements, but, for clarity, we will use the term Expungement when referring to an Order of Expunction.
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.
Can You Expunge Your Record?
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.
Deferred Prosecution or Pretrial Diversion
Deferred Prosecution or Pretrial Diversion is an informal type of probation where, if you complete the terms of your probation, the prosecutor will drop the charges before requiring a plea of guilt. It is less formal than Deferred Adjudication and typically agreed to with the prosecutor instead of a judge.
If you have successfully completed the terms of a Deferred Prosecution sentence, you can almost always immediately apply for expungement without any other real requirements. Deferred Prosecution is not nearly as common as Deferred Adjudication, but it is far more desirable as a sentence.
Deferred Adjudication vs. Deferred Prosecution (Pretrial Diversion)
Deferred Prosecution is often confused with Deferred Adjudication. While the two types of sentencing share some characteristics, they’re very different, particularly in terms of qualifying for expungement or record sealing. If you successfully complete Deferred Adjudication and meet the requirements discussed below, you can usually seal the criminal record, and, in limited circumstances, you can instead expunge it. In contrast, if you successfully complete the terms of a Deferred Prosecution sentencing, you can almost always expunge the record, but sealing is never an option.
General Requirements to Expunge Your Texas Record
There are a few different situations where Texas law allows you to expunge your criminal record, so we will discuss each of their requirements separately. These situations include:
- Acquittals and Pardons
- Dismissals, No-Bills, and Arrests Without Charges Filed
- Class C Misdemeanors with Successful Deferred Adjudication
1. Expungement of Acquittals and Pardons
The general requirements for expunging a criminal record in which you have been acquitted, found not guilty, or pardoned are straightforward – you can almost always immediately expunge those criminal records. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, which include:
- Acquittals made by an appellate court;
- Being found not guilty by reason of insanity; and
- Situations where the offense was part of the “Same Criminal Episode” and other charges remain subject to prosecution.
These exceptions are narrow and do not commonly arise, but we will briefly cover them in case they apply to you.
Acquittals by Appeals Courts
If you were acquitted by the trial court, you are entitled to an immediate expungement. The expungement is required and there is no discretion. However, if you were acquitted on appeal, the trial court has discretion on whether to grant the expungement while the state still has a right to appeal the acquittal. For example, you could have been found guilty at trial, acquitted on appeal, and then have the state appeal to a higher court such as the U.S. Supreme Court. Until the state no longer has the right to appeal the appellate court’s acquittal, the trial court has the discretion to grant or deny the appeal.
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
Our law firm has never encountered this situation, but the rule is that you would not qualify for expungement if you were found not guilty by reason of insanity. However, there is some case law to suggest that, if you were found not guilty by reason of insanity prior to September 1, 2005, you would be entitled to an expungement once released from civil confinement and discharged by the court.
Same Criminal Episode
If other charges resulted from the same set of events or subject matter, they will typically be deemed to be part of the “Same Criminal Episode.” When you’re arrested, it’s frequently for more than one offense, even though some of those charges are dismissed or later dropped. It is not uncommon for prosecutors to file multiple charges as a tactic in negotiating plea bargains, eventually dismissing many of them.
If you were acquitted or found not guilty of one of the charges in the same Criminal Episode, but remain subject to prosecution for other charges stemming from the same Criminal Episode, you cannot expunge the charges you were acquitted of until the other charges are no longer subject to prosecution. In many cases, charges are subject to prosecution until the statute of limitations had run for those other charges, or if the prosecutor dismissed the charges for a lack of probable cause. This concept will be discussed further when we cover the expungement of dismissed offenses.
2. Dismissals, No-Bills, and Arrests Without Charges
It would be reasonable to think that you could immediately expunge charges that were dismissed. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Texas. While you will often be able to expunge dismissed and no-billed charges, there are somewhat complicated rules relating to if and when you can do so.
The rules that governs these types of expungements is covered by Tex. Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 55.01(a)(2), which states two basic requirements: (1) that you’ve been released without either a final conviction or court-ordered supervision; and (2) that the relevant statute of limitations has run, the case has been dismissed for particular reasons, or an applicable waiting period has passed.
The first requirement that you have been released without final conviction or court-ordered supervision is clear. We are going to spend our time discussing the second part of the above requirement, as that’s where situations get complicated for many petitioners.
When You Haven’t Been Charged
If a grand jury has issued a no-bill, meaning that they did not find probable cause to indict, it is essentially the same as not being charged absent a grand jury. You should treat no-bills and not being charged in the same thing when considering eligibility for expungement. If you are later indicted, the following rules no longer apply, and you’ll need to look to qualify in another way.
If there has been no indictment and the following waiting periods have passed, you may seek expungement:
- Class C Misdemeanors: 180 days
- Class A and Class B Misdemeanors: 1 year
- Felonies: 3 years
If there were multiple offenses in the arrest, you will need to use the longest waiting period for all the offenses you were arrested for. Note that this type of expungement is not the same as the other types of expungements we’ll discuss, as the option will essentially go away if you are later charged with the offenses you were arrested for. The charge would need to come within the statute of limitations, however, most of these waiting periods are shorter than the applicable statute of limitation. We will be discussing statutes of limitations in more detail below.
When your charges have been dismissed, you may generally expunge the related criminal record, but there are a number of requirements you must satisfy to qualify. There are also two different methods to expunge dismissed charges, which include:
- Dismissals specifically for “lack of probable cause; and
- When the Statute of Limitations for the offense have expired.
Charges from the Same Criminal Episode
In addition, there is one fairly common exception relating to charges from the “Same Criminal Episode” – we discussed this briefly in terms of acquittals, but the rules are a little different when applied to dismissals.
As previously stated, if other charges resulted from the same set of events or subject matter, they will typically be deemed to be part of the “Same Criminal Episode.” Arrests frequently occur for more than one offense, even though some of those charges are dismissed or later dropped, and prosecutors will commonly file multiple charges to increase their leverage in negotiations.
If you have been convicted, plead guilty, or taken a deferred sentence for any crime from the same Criminal Episode, the charges that were dismissed probably will not qualify for expungement.
Dismissals for Lack of Probable Cause
To expunge a record based on a dismissal for lack of probable cause, the dismissal needs to specifically state that as the reason for dismissal. Even if that was the real reason, it can be difficult to expunge your record on this basis if the dismissal does not specifically state “lack of probable cause.”
If the dismissal does not specifically state this, you are going to need to prove to the court that “the presentment had been made because of mistake, false information, or other similar reason indicating a lack of probable cause at the time of dismissal to believe the person committed the offense.” Our law firm has been able to establish this plenty of times, but just note that it is not as easy as it may sound.
Examples of types of dismissals that would not qualify for expungement include:
- The exclusion of a confession or other evidence due to improper search and seizure;
- Insufficient evidence to convict at trial;
- A witness’ failure or inability to testify;
- A witness’ commission of misconduct; and
- Conviction in a separate case.
Expiration of Statute of Limitations
Expiration of the statute of limitations is a more common way to qualify to expunge a dismissed criminal record, so let’s spend some time understanding the concept.
A “Statute of Limitations” is the time allowed to file charges for an offense. The statute of limitations for some cases is as short as one year, while some serious criminal offenses have no limit and can be filed at any time, even decades after the crime occurred (an example would be murder). In Texas, most criminal offenses have statutes of limitation ranging from two (2) to ten (10) years.
These time periods may vary, so you often need to research your criminal offense to find the right statute of limitation. A good place to start would be the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 12.01, et seq. Here are some general time periods that should be helpful in figuring things out:
- Felonies with NO Statute of Limitations: Murder, Manslaughter, Sexual Assault, Human Trafficking, Compelling Prostitution of a Minor, Leaving the Scene of an Accident when a Death has Taken Place.
- Felonies With 10 Year Statutes of Limitations: Examples of these types of felonies would be, Compelling Prostitution, Arson, Crimes Involving Injury to the Elderly or Disabled, Forgery, and Theft offenses by government employees.
- Felonies with 7 Year Statutes of Limitations: Examples of these types of felonies include Identity Theft, Money Laundering, Fraud, Bigamy, and certain financial and tax crimes.
- Felonies with 5 Year Statutes of Limitations: Examples of these types of felonies include Insurance Fraud, many Theft offenses, Robbery, Burglary, and Endangering or Abandoning a Child.
- All Other Felonies Have a 3 Year Statute of Limitations: Most felonies fall into this category and have a 3 year statute of limitations.
- All Misdemeanors Have a 2 Year Statute of Limitations
Legal Effects of Expunging Your Record in Texas
How will expunging my conviction or arrest record help me get a job?
Expunctions in Texas result in the complete destruction of your records relating to the case, so an expungement is often the best available option for dealing with your criminal record. In most cases, the records can never be accessed again, and, if they exist, any release of the records would be a Class B misdemeanor.
A granted order allows you to legally deny that you were ever arrested or expunged anything.
Will expunging my conviction or arrest records restore Second Amendment right to own and possess a firearm?
When convicted of a felony in Texas, the State will take away your firearm rights. However, the rights are automatically restored once five years have passed since completing your sentence. Yet, when your rights are restored, they are only restored for the premises at which you live. Further, restoration from the state has no effect on your federal firearm rights, and federal law enforcement could still conceivably prosecute you for possession of a firearm. Currently, the only way to restore your firearm rights in Texas is by setting aside your conviction or obtaining a pardon from the Governor.
Expunctions are typically only available in situations that did not result in a finding of guilt. Therefore, a charge that is eligible to expunge would not have restricted your firearm rights initially, and the expungement won’t affect your firearm rights.
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 getting rid of your arrest record in Texas include:
- Removing a finding of guilt and closing the case on your criminal record to help you get a better job
- Becoming eligible for professional licenses you previously did not qualify for
- 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
- We Are Here to Help
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.
You can trust that you will get exceptional service from our law firm, as we have an A Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and prestigious attorney rating services such as Thompson Reuters and Avvo list our attorneys as Super Lawyers and Superb Attorneys. Our law firm has attorneys licensed to practice law in all Texas state courts, provides low price guarantees, and is here to fight for you and put your criminal record behind you!