Do You Need to Take Steps to Clean Up Your Criminal History???
If you have had a misdemeanor or felony case dismissed in Williamson County or elsewhere in the State of Texas, you may be surprised to discover that you still have a criminal arrest record that can cause you problems for years to come, possibly for the rest of your life. When you apply for a new job, a promotion, a loan, or even apply for a lease on a new place to live, your potential boss, lender, or landlord can learn about your criminal arrest record on the internet and may discover that you were previously arrested (even if the case was later dismissed or even if you were later acquitted by a judge or jury).
Who wants to have to explain that, yes, you were in fact arrested for possession of marijuana, burglary of a building, indecent exposure, shoplifting, indecency with a child, or some other embarrassing crime, but that the State of Texas dropped its case against you because of insufficient evidence or because you completed a diversion program or for some other good reason???
This is where an expunction can be useful to you.
I can work to help you clean up your criminal history. Whether you need to protect your professional future, or you simply want to make sure that your criminal history isn't tarnished by an unfair or dismissed accusation, I will fully explore your options with you. I have been helping clients in Williamson County and throughout Central Texas for more than 31 years in private practice, and I can help you. Under certain circumstances, Texas law allows you to basically pick up an eraser and clean up your criminal history...
Know Your Rights and Your Options
When you fill out an employment application or a loan application, you will almost certainly see a question asking about your criminal record. You are often required by law to reveal whether you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.
If you were falsely arrested in the past, I can help you with the expunction process so that you can legally lie and answer "no" to those embarrassing questions about your previous arrest record. The State of Texas recognizes that it is not fair to penalize you for the rest of your life by making you reveal an old arrest that was without merit. If you get an arrest expunged, then you are legally allowed to lie and say it never happened and you are also legally allowed to lie and deny that you ever had the arrest expunged.
Expunction — Texas citizens who have been arrested for a crime can petition a district court for an expunction if their case has been dismissed or they have been found “not guilty” by a judge or jury or even acquitted after a successful appeal. If you successfully finished a pretrial intervention program or a diversion program, you might be able to get the arrest expunged. If you were convicted but later pardoned by the Texas Governor, you might be able to get the arrest expunged. However, the ball is in your court to ask for an expunction. Unless you make the effort to pursue an expunction, your criminal record will still reflect an arrest, even if you never served any probation, never pleaded guilty or no contest to any charges, and never paid a fine. (Some people do not realize that even if they surrendered themselves on an arrest warrant and did a “walk through” at a jail by booking in and out of jail as part of the same process, that still counts as an arrest. A "walk through" will count as an arrest even if the charge is later dismissed.)
Working with a lawyer, you may have a legal avenue to clear your criminal record and protect your name. I can sit down with you, review your criminal record and provide clear guidance on what options are available.
In order to get the arrest removed from your record, your attorney would file a petition in district court requesting the removal. The agencies that had information regarding this arrest would be notified to see if they have any objections to the expunction. The vast majority of expunction petitions aren't opposed by any law enforcement agency. There would have to be a very short hearing in district court to get the expunction. You and your attorney would need to appear at the brief expunction hearing. The filing fee to file a petition for an expunction is around $350. My legal fees for assisting you with an expunction petition here in Williamson County are $1,199.
If you were arrested somewhere other than Williamson County, the expunction petition might have to be filed in the Texas county where the arrest occurred. My fee may increase slightly due to travel time considerations. Please contact my office if you are interested in an expunction in Williamson County or in any other Texas county. If a district judge grants your request to expunge the arrest from your criminal history, then you can legally deny that the arrest ever took place. It usually takes around 75 days from the day the petition gets filed to get an expunction completed. Therefore, it is not a good idea to wait until you absolutely need the arrest to be off your criminal history before applying for an expunction.
If you ever get into additional trouble with the law, it is best to have this arrest expunged or deleted from your criminal record so that the old arrest will not hurt you in the eyes of a prosecutor who is looking at a new charge. Most prosecutors want to impose more punishment on a criminal defendant who has a serious criminal record than they would on someone who has a clean record.
Please note that an expunction will delete an arrest from your record when you were never convicted of the crime you were arrested for and never served any probation for the crime. If you received a deferred adjudication for the offense and successfully finished the deferred adjudication, you might still be eligible for something called a non-disclosure order. Please click on non-disclosure order for more information on that subject.
Find Out if You Are Eligible For an Expunction...
Laws regarding Texas expunctions have changed in the past few years. One change reduced the amount of time you had to wait after the arrest before applying for an expunction.
Call my Georgetown office today at 512-869-0131 for a free telephone consultation regarding an expunction. If possible, try to gather any paperwork you might have regarding your arrest and have it in front of you when you call me to make it easier to determine if you are eligible for an expunction. Let me help you clear your criminal record.