Expungement in Texas is a process that legally erases a crime from an individual’s record. One of the most common types of cases people wish to have expunged are DWI cases, as getting a DWI in Texas can come with a slew of negative repercussions, both legal and social. 

There are different means and methods towards obtaining expungement in Texas (see pretrial diversion), but typically, expungements occur during sentencing. However, a whole lot can happen between the time of your arrest and the time of sentencing, especially when cases often last months or even years.

To that end, we urge you to keep in mind that arrests do not equal guilty charges. This idea can be hard to believe if you’ve recently been caught driving with a blood alcohol content above the legal alcohol limit or if you have a warrant for your arrest. But it’s extremely important to keep the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” in the front of your mind — and to hire a skilled DWI lawyer in Houston — if you want a shot at expungement in Texas.

Have questions like, “Can a deferred adjudication be expunged?” or “Am I eligible for expunction?” Here, we answer all of these queries and more.  

Texas expungement eligibility

According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.01, there are many different scenarios that leave you eligible for expungement in Texas. However, Texas differentiates between individuals who are eligible for an expunction and those who are entitled to it. Before you start petitioning for an expunction, it’s important to know under which of these two categories you fall. 

Individuals eligible for an expungement in Texas:

  • Those who were convicted but later acquitted in a court of appeals
  • Those whose prosecuting attorney recommends an expunction

Individuals entitled to an expungement in Texas:

  • Those who were arrested and charged but whose cases were ultimately dismissed (so long as the statute of limitations has expired). 
  • Those who were arrested but never charged (requires a waiting period) 
  • Those acquitted of a crime
  • Those who were convicted but were later found innocent or pardoned

Even if you are eligible/entitled to an expungement in Texas based on the above criteria, you will not qualify for an expunction if you meet any of the following conditions.

Disqualifying conditions for expungement in Texas:

  • Being convicted of a felony within five years from the date of the arrest you wish to have expunged 
  • The statute of limitations has not yet expired on a dismissed case in which an individual was charged with a felony
  • Having received deferred adjudication (adults only)
  • Having received probation (adults only) 
  • The charge an individual wishes to have expunged was part of a “criminal episode,” and the individual either still has charges pending from said episode or has been convicted of crimes from said episode (see Texas Penal Code § 3.01 for a definition of a criminal episode) 

What can and cannot be expunged in Texas?

With a good defense, expunging a misdemeanor in Texas and getting a felony expunged in Texas are both possible. Should you meet the qualifications specified above, the following charges are open for expunction. (Don’t see your case type? Don’t panic! This list is far from exhaustive.)

More specifically, the Texas Young Lawyers Association and State Bar of Texas designate the following situations as being qualified for expunction in Texas:

  • An arrest for a crime that was never charged
  • A criminal charge that was ultimately dismissed
  • Certain qualifying misdemeanor juvenile offenses
  • Conviction of a minor for certain alcohol offenses
  • Conviction for failure to attend school
  • Arrest, charge, or conviction on a person’s record due to identity theft by another individual that was actually arrested, charged or convicted of the crime
  • Conviction for a crime that was later acquitted by the trial court or the Criminal Court of Appeals
  • Conviction for a crime that was later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the US President

Record sealing and orders of nondisclosure

If you do not qualify for expunction of your charge, you may still be in luck. Texas law also allows a petition for nondisclosure if you have completed deferred adjudication. Deferred adjudication is a type of plea deal where the defendant pleads “guilty” or “no contest” to their charges in exchange for meeting certain requirements laid out by the court of law, including community supervision. 

If you petition for nondisclosure, you are asking for your record to be sealed, not cleared, as it would be with an expunction. If your record is sealed, only a small group of government agencies and select entities specified in your agreement will be able to view your criminal history. That being said, there are some crimes that will always show up on a criminal background check in Texas.

Crimes ineligible for record sealing in Texas public criminal records:

  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Any crime that requires you to register as a sex offender
  • Any family violence offense
  • Child endangerment or abandonment
  • Human trafficking
  • Murder
  • Stalking

Expungement in Texas for juvenile offenses

Minors are also eligible for expungement under certain circumstances, including being charged with a misdemeanor punishable by fine committed prior to the age of 17, offenses that fall under the Alcoholic Beverage Code, and failure to attend school.

Judges are often more lenient and giving when it comes to minors, but if an individual under the age of 17 has multiple convictions of his/her record, expungement in Texas becomes less likely.

How long does it take for a record to be expunged in Texas? 

The amount of time individuals must wait before petitioning for an expunction varies depending on the type of charge, whether the individual was convicted, acquitted, or the case was dismissed, the statutes of limitations, and several other factors.

However, we can provide you with a clear outline of a waiting period if you were arrested but never formally charged with a crime

  • Felony: 3 years from the date of the arrest
  • Class A & B misdemeanor: 1 year from the date of the arrest
  • Class C misdemeanor: 180 days from the date of the arrest

Get your petition for expungement in Texas started today

Rather than letting your record be tarnished forever, contact us at Thiessen Law Firm and we’ll start the process of filing for your expungement in Texas. The criminal defense lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm can help answer case-specific questions, such as “How much does it cost to get my record expunged in Texas?” or “Can a Class C misdemeanor theft in Texas be expunged?” 

We’ve all made mistakes that are worth forgiving. Get in touch with the most aggressive Houston DWI attorney today and begin your journey toward justice today.

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Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.