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When can someone get an expunction, and why seek one early?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2023 | Criminal Defense

What Texas calls expunction, many other states call expungement. It is a legal process through which someone who has been convicted of a criminal offense removes the record of their arrest and conviction from their permanent record.

Expunction can obviously be a very beneficial process for those who have been convicted of violating criminal statutes. However, many people don’t understand when they are eligible for expunction or why it is so important to seek it as soon as possible. Those who learn the basics about expunction in Texas can better mitigate the practical consequences of many criminal charges.

When is expunction an option?

Whether someone qualifies for an expunction will depend on the charges against them. Texas law limits expunctions to Class C misdemeanors when someone actually pleads guilty or gets convicted. People can also ask for an expunction to remove records of an acquittal, as well as the record of an arrest that did not result in a criminal indictment.

The nature of the criminal charge someone faces will determine how long they have to wait before expunction is an option. If someone was arrested but never faced charges for a Class C misdemeanor charges, they will typically need to wait at least 180 days before filing expunction paperwork.

Those who would like to remove an arrest for a Class A or B misdemeanor will usually need to wait at least one year, while felonies require a waiting period of at least three years.

Why timely expunction is so important

In theory, someone could wait years to secure an expunction, and they don’t become ineligible if they wait too long. However, they will inevitably suffer the negative consequences of a criminal conviction for years if they fail to remove the blemish from their record quickly. They could end up being turned down for promotions at work or denied scholarships and other forms of student financial aid.

The longer a conviction stays on someone’s record, the more likely it is to become public knowledge in their community and to affect their reputation. The sooner someone makes use of their right to expunction, the sooner they can move on from the offense-related burdens that have limited their opportunities ever since their arrest.

Learning more about the Texas rules for expunction from an experienced legal professional can help those who are trying to cope with the consequences of an arrest or criminal conviction.