Many Collin County residents are rightly concerned about the impact that an arrest may have on their criminal record. Even if the arrest does not lead to a conviction–or a conviction is later overturned by an appeals court–the criminal case remains a matter of public record and can hamper a person’s ability to get a job, an apartment, or even a bank loan. To help avoid such consequences, a person may petition a judge for expunction (or expungement) of any records related to the case in some situations.
Destroying All Records of Your Case
If a judge grants a petition for expunction, the court clerk notifies the Texas Department of Public Safety and any other agency identified in the petition that might have records related to the expunged offense (such as a county jail). The agencies must destroy or return to the clerk any records related to the expunged arrest or charge. This includes any “index references to the records and files” of the arrest. The Department of Public Safety is also legally required to notify any federal repository of criminal records to do the same. Any files returned to the clerk must either be destroyed or, at his or her request, given to the petitioner.
In other words, expunction is designed to, as much as possible, erase any legal record of the petitioner’s arrest. This also means the petitioner does not have to disclose the arrest on any future job application. And if a prospective employer conducts a criminal background check, the expunged arrest should not turn up.
Alternatives to Expunction
Expunction should not be confused with a pardon. The latter is when the governor of Texas (or the President of the United States in federal criminal cases) absolves a person who has been convicted of a crime. Expunction, at least in Texas, generally applies to people who have not been convicted or whose convictions have already been reversed by a court.
There are also cases where a person may not be eligible for expunction but may be able to obtain an Order of Nondisclosure. A nondisclosure order does not erase a criminal record, but it does limit access to certain parties, primarily government agencies. Like expunction, a nondisclosure order allows a person to avoid disclosing the subject arrest on a job application.
Clearing your criminal record can be the first step towards rebuilding your life following a wrongful arrest. An experienced Frisco criminal defense attorney can assist you with seeking expungement or a non-disclosure order. Contact the McKinney, Texas criminal defense attorneys at Rosenthal & Wadas PLLC if you need help with expungement in Texas.