The main expenses of an expunction (also called an expungement) in Texas are the court costs and attorney fees. Court costs vary by the courthouse. The amount of your attorney fees will depend on how complicated your case is and how much work the lawyer has to do to get your arrest record wiped clean.
Although an expunction can cost several thousand dollars or more, the benefits to your career, education, reputation, and life are well worth the expense. Even if the prosecutor dismissed the criminal charges against you or a judge or jury found you not guilty, you still have an arrest record. Arrest records are available to the public in Texas.
You could miss out on the job of your dreams if a potential employer does a background check and sees that you got arrested in the past. A college or university might reject your application for admission if they see an arrest on your record. You might not be eligible for certain professions if you have a criminal background.
How an Expunction Protects You
According to the Texas State Bar, if you get an expunction, your arrest record will look as if nothing ever happened. All court documents, paper records, and digital records of your arrest will get destroyed. If a potential employer, university admissions committee, or anyone else pulls your criminal record, there will be no trace of the arrest. They cannot penalize you for an arrest that they cannot see.
Find Out if You Are Eligible for an Expunction
If your lawyer makes a formal request for an expunction, you should receive it if you:
- Got arrested but were not charged with a crime and the time limit for filing charges has passed
- Were charged with a crime, but the case was dismissed and the time limit for going forward on charges against you has expired
- Got charged with a crime but received an acquittal
- Got convicted of a crime, but a court later found you to be innocent
- Received a conviction but later got pardoned
A lawyer can request an expungement for a client if the prosecuting attorney recommends expungement or if you were convicted but later acquitted. In these situations, it will be up to the judge to decide if you will get an expungement.
The judge can deny your request for expunction if you are an adult offender who received probation or deferred adjudication. Additional reasons for denial of expunction requests are if the petitioning party:
- Jumped bail
- Got charged with a felony that later got dismissed, but the time for refiling charges has not yet passed
- You face charges for an additional crime that was related to the arrest for which you seek an expunction
- Got convicted of a felony within five years of the arrest date in question
There are many other reasons that can lead a judge to deny your request for an expunction. We can explain additional factors after we investigate your situation.
Another Option: A Non-Disclosure Order
Sometimes a person does not qualify for an expunction, but he wants to keep his arrest record out of the hands of people who can affect his career, education, livelihood, or personal life. We might seek a non-disclosure order from the court to protect your privacy. According to the Texas Justice Department, a non-disclosure order will seal your criminal records from everyone except for law enforcement and other entities with the authority to view the documents.
Working with a Lawyer on an Expunction
Texas law does not force you to work with an attorney on your formal request for an expunction, but doing so can be well worth the expense. Texas penal laws are complicated, and a criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate through the process.
If you try to handle your own expunction as a DIY project, you will save yourself some money on legal fees, but you could lose the case.
If you work with an attorney and get an expunction of your arrest record, the legal fees will pay for themselves quickly because you will avoid significant financial harm that can continue for the rest of your life. For example, if your arrest was for a driving-related offense, your car insurance premiums can go up for years.
Try to put a price on getting into the desired college or having the career you have always wanted. Working with a lawyer is an investment in your future.
Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today at (214) 696-9253 for a free consultation.