Nowadays having any type of criminal record can significantly damage your future. From job security and loan approval, to college admittance and gun rights, your legal rights are extremely limited. So what can you do to restore your integrity?
Are You Eligible for Record Expungement?
Record expungement can be a difficult process but according to a Texas criminal defense attorney, you might be eligible to do so if the following scenarios apply to your case:
You have been granted deferred adjudication
You were a juvenile at the time of the offense
You have successfully completed probation
Deferred adjudication is a “plea” negotiation that is available for defendants who have plead guilty to criminal charges. In most cases the judge will defer finding guilt until after successful completion of probation. Depending on ones conduct during and after the probationary period, the judge has the option of expunging the record clean of any criminal offense.
Sealing vs. Expunging a Criminal Record
In cases for Juvenile offenders, the option to seek expungement or to seal criminal records is also available. Though laws vary from state to state, sealing a record means that although the actual record does exist, the public cannot access it.
When your record is expunged, it is wiped clean of any criminal charge as if the offense had never happened at all. Expunging means the record is destroyed and is not even available with a court order.
A person is also eligible for record expungement when and if they have successfully served their sentence or completed probation. In some cases a judge might even go as far as shortening a period of probation in order to allow expungement to take place earlier.
The highest form of criminal record expungement is to receive a, “Certificate of Actual Innocence”. In addition to sealing any information of a previous arrest or conviction, the certificate recognizes that the person was innocent of any criminal behavior to begin with.
A few felony and misdemeanor offenses that can be expunged are as follows:
Possession of Marijuana
What are the Effects of Expungement?
Record expungement results in a new entry in the court record proving the dismissal of the case.
It allows you to answer on job applications that you have not been convicted of a crime. (Excluding government-issued jobs)
Prevents the use of a past conviction to impeach you if you testify as a witness. (Unless you are being tried for a subsequent offense)
If the conviction was for a felony, expungement is the first step in obtaining a pardon.
What Will Expungement Not Do?
Having your record expunged will not reinstate the right to possess firearms. (If it was taken away; In cases such as Domestic Violence)
It does not remove the requirement to register as a sex offender.
Expungement does not allow you to exclude the conviction from applications for government issued licenses.
It does not prevent the conviction from being used as a prior/strike to increase punishment on a subsequent conviction.