What a wonderful thing it would be to have our past mistakes completely erased and never to be thought of again. Many people call this repentance and rely on their respective Gods to grant them forgiveness, but for those in the legal system, penitence means expunging a record rather than forgiving.
What does expungement mean?
When a person’s criminal record is expunged, the case is closed and the transgression is forgotten throughout the legal system. Once expunged, the record is no longer accessible through state or federal repositories, which means that no one can obtain any documents related to the crime. After successfully completing this procedure, one can truly resume normal life and act as if nothing ever happened.
Expungement of Texas Felony Conviction
Under what circumstances can a felony be expunged? Who makes this decision? What is the typical waiting period? Are there certain felonies that can’t be expunged?
The legal process by which a court removes or erases all records of a criminal conviction, even if it is a felony conviction, is known as expungement. Even if you wait 10 or 20 years, your conviction will not vanish on its own; you must take action. As a result, if you want to expunge a felony from your record and are eligible under the laws of the state where you were convicted, you must obtain a court order.
In certain circumstances, Texas courts allow for the expungement of arrest and conviction records. If your request is granted, any records relating to your arrest or subsequent trial will be sealed. Fingerprints, mug shots, DNA collection, trial transcripts, and other arrest records will be included. It will be as if the crime never occurred. This enables you to respond to the application question with a qualified “No,” and you will be telling the truth in the eyes of the court.
Texas categorizes felonies into four degrees. These are weighted based on the gravity of the offense and the number of offenses committed. Capital felonies are at the top of the list of offenses with the harshest penalties. A person in this category faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. In the case of capital felonies, the jury will be informed whether the prosecution seeks the death penalty; if not, the jury will be informed that life in prison is mandatory.
Felonies in the First Degree
First-degree felonies are punishable by life in prison or a sentence of no more than 99 years and no less than five years. In addition to a prison sentence, an individual may face a fine of up to $10,000.
Felonies in the Second Degree
Second-degree felons face imprisonment for a period of no more than twenty years and no less than two years. A fine may be imposed in addition to a jail sentence. In the case of second degree felonies, the fine can be up to $10,000, but no more.
Felonies in the Third Degree
Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to ten years in state prison, but not less than two. This sentence could also be served by the institutional division. Third degree felonies, like other felonies, can result in a fine. This fine can be as much as $10,000, but no more.
A person can be found guilty of a third degree felony in Texas if a deadly weapon was used or if the person was previously convicted of a felony listed in the Code of Criminal Procedure. If this is discovered, the individual is housed in a state jail rather than a state prison.
Sealing of Texas Records
Some criminal records are legally sealed for public viewing under public policy. This allows a person to be more productive in life and not be limited by a criminal record. This is referred to as non-disclosure in Texas. Once a record has been sealed, only specific government agencies may access the contents of the files. The files will not be accessible to anyone else.
The arrest or conviction will then appear to have never occurred. Record sealing is available to those who qualify and request it. Court requirements must be met, and all necessary paperwork must be completed correctly. If it is in the best interests of the court, the court may reject an application for sealing.
A conviction must have been acquitted, reversed in court, legally pardoned, or dismissed to be eligible. Those who do not meet these criteria are frequently ineligible for record sealing. If the crime was committed while the individual was under the age of eighteen, juvenile records are almost always sealed.
Texas Expungement Requirements
A person who wishes to have his criminal record expunged must meet a number of requirements before applying and being considered. The requirements include serving the time sentenced, having no intervening incidents, and waiting a certain amount of time between the incident and the expungement, but these rules vary by state.
Furthermore, the type of expungement will vary depending on the classification of the crime, the convict’s age at the time of the crime, and the completed punishment. Essentially, a person who has led a reformed life and seeks a clear record that allows them to omit their crime from general applications may seek expungement. Similarly to pardons, an expungement may not be granted due to the facts of the case or the convict’s behavior. However, if a person can demonstrate that their criminal record is impeding their job opportunities and that they have grown as a person since their conviction, they can begin the four-month process.
You must convince the judge
It is ultimately up to the judge of the court where you were convicted to grant you an expungement. In order to have your felony conviction expunged, you must follow the laws of the state in which you were convicted. This legal process can take anywhere from three months to a year or more, depending on the state.
If your conviction is successfully expunged, your records will be erased and sealed from public view. As a result, if a prospective employer runs a criminal background check on you, your criminal conviction will be hidden. It may take some time after receiving a court order expunging the offense before it is completely removed from all local, state, and federal criminal history databases.
Follow your state’s procedures
Expunging felony convictions is handled differently in each state. In general, you must file an expungement motion or petition with the court that convicted you of the felony. You must request that your felony conviction be removed in your petition, explain why you want this done (for school, employment, etc.), and demonstrate how your situation meets the requirements of your state’s laws. You may also be required to provide information on whether you successfully completed the terms and conditions of your felony conviction sentence, whether you have been charged with and/or convicted of any new crimes, and whether you are currently on probation or parole for another offense.
Furthermore, each state has different eligibility requirements for felony conviction expungement. Certain types or classes of felony convictions cannot be expunged in almost all states, and felony convictions cannot be expunged at all in a significant number of states. Many state laws, for example, do not allow specified sexual offenses or violent crimes to be expunged under any circumstances. Some states also prohibit the expungement of the most serious felony convictions, such as those resulting in death or bodily harm.
Texas Expungement Requirements
In Texas, if you were arrested for a felony or misdemeanor crime and later found not guilty, you can have your record expunged. You must wait at least 30 days after your acquittal before applying for expungement. If you were convicted but later pardoned by the Governor, your record can be expunged.
When it comes to granting an expungement after a criminal conviction, the courts will be more scrutinizing. Most misdemeanor convictions in Texas are eligible for expungement if you have not committed any other crimes between the time of your arrest and the filing of the petition. In Texas, the chances of getting a felony charge expunged are extremely slim. There are some exceptions based on the severity of the crime.
DUI convictions face the same penalties as felony convictions. If it was a DUI, you probably won’t be able to have your records expunged unless it was a misdemeanor charge.
If a minor is arrested and later convicted of a crime, they can petition the courts for an expungement when they reach the age of 18. If there was only one criminal incident, the expungement will be granted. However, if the offense involved a sexual crime, an expungement will not be granted.
How Long Does it Take?
Furthermore, you cannot usually have your felony conviction expunged until a set period of time has gone by since the date you finished your sentence and probation related to the conviction. This timeframe can range from one year to five years or more after the completion of your sentence or probation. As a result, it may be several years after your conviction before i may be possible to have it expunged.
How to expunge felonies
It is difficult to remove a felony; you should seek the advice of a local attorney who is familiar with local laws and can guide you through this process. Find a local lawyer today (no obligation required).
Find a good Texas Expungement Lawyer
It is strongly advised that one seeks the assistance of a lawyer to assist them with their case and persuade the judge that an expungement of their record would be overall beneficial despite everything that occurred. Although it is possible to appeal for an expungement on your own, it is always preferable to consult with and hire a lawyer to represent you.
A Texas expungement lawyer will guide a convicted criminal through the process, eventually bringing their cases to light and highlighting the reasons why their client is deserving of expungement. Furthermore, the paperwork required for expunction is extensive, time-consuming, and must be convincing enough for a judge to grant the expungement of a criminal record.
A lawyer who specializes in expunction would assist a person with this paperwork because they understand what a court looks for in these types of requests. They have a good idea of how one case with more convincing paperwork would fare against another that appears weaker.
A good expungement lawyer will be eager to be comprehensive and precise with the available options for what a convict can do to further their case and what could happen if they are given expunction. If you do not meet the criteria for a state-appointed lawyer, you can search for one online or contact the nearest firm. For convicts, expungement is a fantastic opportunity to move on with their lives and be free of the judicial process.