Criminal Record Expungement

criminal record expungement barrera law firm
Don't let a criminal record shadow your life, call us for a criminal record expungement.
The Barrera Law Firm serves the entire Rio Grande Valley and offers criminal record expungement in Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen and beyond. Criminal record expungement is the sealing of criminal records, clearing criminal records so that records of arrest or prosecution that you may have will not be available to prospective employers, loan officers, apartment managers, college admission personnel or other officials.

It is an important service so that you can effectively move on with your life.

Deferred adjudication, which is pleading guilty to an offense, but having the court defer the plea of guilt for a period of months or years as long as the person complies with the conditions of the court will not necessarily protect you in this case. The guilty plea is never entered and they do not have a conviction on their record, however, there is a record of arrest and prosecution.

So do not let chance or a past mistake or even an error with the justice system allow the remainder of your life to be disrupted. Contact us for a free consultation on criminal record expungement.

How Can You Expunge Records in Texas?

GavelThe law in Texas never intended that persons who were arrested but never convicted have their records stained for life. Background searches are cold and matter of fact. They do not clarify or explain injustices. In a very competitive job market, a record of arrest or prosecution in one’s background may be perceived negatively.

Generally, the following factors must be involved, among other things to successfully apply:

1) Case dismissed by prosecutor and accepted by the court.
2) Case dismissed by prosecutor and accepted by the court following the successful completion of a pre-trial diversion program.
3) Not guilty verdict at trial and no appeal pending.
4) Arrested and case rejected by prosecutors at intake because of lacking elements for successful prosecution.
5) Arrested and no action (complaint) taken after one year by prosecutors for a Class A or B misdemeanor.
6) Arrested and no action (indictment) taken after three years by prosecutors for a felony case or misdemeanor if a felony was one of the charges out of the same arrest or case.

In any of the above circumstances, it is possible for District Attorney’s Office, DPS or other law enforcement agencies to object to the expunction and prove to the court why the record should remain because of an ongoing investigation or some other clear and convincing reason as to how justice would be served.

Some jurisdictions in Texas will oppose an expunction for a felony that was dismissed if the person pled guilty to a misdemeanor as part of the plea bargain stemming from the same arrest or case. However, at the time of this writing, this is not settled law, or law that has been adopted by the 13 Court of Appeals, which reviews cases for a large portion of South Texas that includes Cameron and Hidalgo Counties. The Barrera Law Firm feels that this law does not comply with the intent of our Texas legislators and goes against the basic policy underlying plea bargains.

Early Termination of Probation in Texas

criminal defense harlingen barrera law firmEarly termination of probation was created by the Texas Legislature to reward those who have complied with their requirements of probation and have reformed as a result of it. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42.12 Section 12, allows a defendant to apply for early termination who has completed either 1/3rd of there probation or 18 months- whichever is less.

Early termination of probation is best applied for when you have paid all fines, court costs and restitution (if required). Also, courts look to see if you have violated your probation in the past. Individuals that are on community supervision as result of a Deferred Adjudication may also be eligible for early termination. There are circumstances and certain offenses that will prevent you from being accepted for early termination of community supervision or probation that can be complex.

Petitioning Courts to Order Expunctions and Nondisclosures in Texas

Petitioning Courts to Order Expunctions and NondisclosuresGetting arrested doesn’t have to tarnish your life forever. With the right attorney you can eventually clear or seal the record of your arrest and subsequent prosecution.

Some people think that their record will go away on its own under some circumstances, or after a certain waiting period. Unfortunately, this is not the case. You must petition the court to get an expunction or a nondisclosure. You may need an attorney, as this process can be very complex.

In Texas, two ways of having your record cleared or sealed are known as expunctions and orders of nondisclosure. An expunction completely erases the criminal record for a particular arrest and allegation. An order of nondisclosure or “record sealing” protects you from the general public, but the government and law enforcement agencies will still have the information regarding your past arrest.

Qualifying for Expunctions:

To be eligible for an expunction, or complete clearing of your criminal record for any single allegation, you must have been found innocent, or the charges against you must have been dismissed.

Qualifying for Nondisclosures:

To be eligible for a nondisclosure, at minimum, you must not have been convicted of the crime you are seeking to seal. This means you may have plead guilty or no contest, but were given “deferred adjudication” probation instead of ordinary probation. Deferred adjudication literally means that a judge holds back from finding you guilty, or “defers a finding of guilt” while waiting for you to complete your probation. And once you successfully complete it, the judge enters “NAOG” on your record – which means “No Adjudication of Guilt.”

What’s the difference?

Expunction – Total Erasure

In Texas, anyone found innocent is entitled to an expunction (“clearing”) of the criminal record associated with that allegation, including erasing the record of arrest for that allegation.

If you were arrested but charges were never filed, or they were dismissed, you can also have that record expunged once the statute of limitations has been exhausted, under certain conditions.

The statute of limitations means that if charges against you were never filed or were dropped, but you weren’t given a final judgment of innocence (i.e., found innocent at trial), there may be a waiting period before you can request an expunction. If no charges were ever brought again within the time period of that statute of limitations, or even if they were but you were never convicted, you can get an expunction.

The advantage of expunction is that you may legally deny that you were ever arrested for that crime. When your record is expunged, the judge orders all governmental agencies to completely erase your record for that allegation. Even some law enforcement or government agencies may not use it against you if they somehow still have a record of your arrest.

Nondisclosures or Record Sealing

If you do not qualify for a complete expunction, you may still qualify for an order of nondisclosure – or “having your record sealed.” The main difference between expunctions and nondisclosure orders is that all governmental agencies will still have the ability and right to see your criminal record. Private employers, apartments, banks and the public will not.

Who is Never Eligible for Nondisclosures?

The bottom line is that if you were found guilty, you are not eligible to seal that record. Your only avenue would be a pardon, which is a little more burdensome and involved than the courts.

Certain crimes will always carry a conviction if you plead guilty, and are never going to be eligible for deferred adjudication probation. Other crimes are eligible for deferred, but you usually have to have a good attorney to get deferred ordered by the judge when you plead to the charge.

Call Ric Barrera with The Barrera Law Firm, PC at 956 428 2822 now to find out if you qualify for an expunction or a nondisclosure, or for help with your pending criminal case.

Deferred Adjudication and Criminal Background Checks

Will a criminal background check show my arrest if my conviction was deferred or I received a period of deferred adjudication?

Deferred Adjudication and Criminal Background Checks
Call The Barrera Law Firm for a free consultation on sealing your record

ORDER OF NON-DISCLOSURE CAN SEAL YOUR RECORD FROM CERTAIN CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS

Your record of arrest will still come up on a criminal background check unless you take further legal steps after you successfully complete your period of deferred adjudication.

Texas law allows a person who has successfully finished a court ordered period of deferred adjudication to request from the court an order of nondisclosure that prohibits the government from disclosing to the public criminal information related to that offense.

Additionally, the government is permitted to release criminal history information related to an order of nondisclosure to criminal justice agencies and authorized government agencies.

ORDER OF NON-DISCLOSURE IS NOT PERMISSIBLE FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES

You may not file to seal your records from criminal background checks if you were convicted of:

  • Indecency with a Child
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Prohibited Sexual Conduct (such as Incest)
  • Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Compelling Prostitution
  • Sexual Performance by a Child
  • Injury to a Child
  • Violation of a Protective Order
  • Any Offense Involving Family Violence
  • Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography
  • Unlawful Restraint, Kidnapping, or Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Murder and Capital Murder
  • Attempt, Conspiracy, or Solicitation to Commit any of the Above Offenses

AN ORDER OF NON-DISCLOSURE IS NOT EFFECTIVE BY CERTAIN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND LICENSING BOARDS

A criminal justice agency may disclose criminal history record information that is the subject of an order of nondisclosure to the following noncriminal justice agencies or entities only:

  • the State Board for Educator Certification;
  • a school district, charter school, private school, regional education service center, commercial transportation company, or education shared service arrangement;
  • the Texas Medical Board;
  • the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired;
  • the Board of Law Examiners;
  • the State Bar of Texas;
  • a district court regarding a petition for name change under Subchapter B, Chapter 45, Family Code;
  • the Texas School for the Deaf;
  • the Department of Family and Protective Services;
  • the Texas Youth Commission;
  • the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services;
  • the Department of State Health Services, a local mental health service, a local mental retardation authority, or a community center providing services to persons with mental illness or retardation;
  • the Texas Private Security Board;
  • a municipal or volunteer fire department;
  • the Texas Board of Nursing;
  • a safe house providing shelter to children in harmful situations;
  • a public or nonprofit hospital or hospital district;
  • the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission;
  • the securities commissioner, the banking commissioner, the savings and mortgage lending commissioner, or the credit union commissioner;
  • the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy;
  • the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation;
  • the Health and Human Services Commission;
  • the Department of Aging and Disability Services; and
  • the Texas Education Agency.

WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER GETTING YOUR RECORD SEALED?

You may tell your private employers that you have not been convicted of the crime that was sealed, you may feel more confident when a criminal background check is performed by a non-government agency, and you can seal your record from the public.

Contact The Barrera Law Firm to find out whether you qualify for the application process through a free in-person or over the phone consultation.

Do You Qualify for Expunging Your Criminal Record?

HandcuffsHave you ever noticed the section on job applications and college financial aid applications that asks you if you have a criminal record, or if you have ever been arrested?

That information is required because many employers do not hire anyone with a criminal background, and felons are not permitted to apply for federal loans for college. Perhaps you’ve considered just not mentioning your criminal background the next time you apply for a job, but the truth is your prospective employer may find out and the likelihood is that you will lose your job and your good reference.

Fortunately, for Texas residents there is a solution to the problem of a criminal record. Some Texas residents are eligible for having their criminal records expunged. A criminal record in Texas may still exist even after a dismissal, a not guilty verdict, or the completion of a pre-trial diversion program because the record of arrest and prosecution may still be visible upon a routine background check.

You might have a criminal record even if you were never convicted of a crime. If you were arrested but never charged, charged but your case was dismissed, completed a pre-trial diversion program and your case was dismissed, or you underwent a trial where you were found not guilty, you still may have a criminal record. Without an expungement, you are possibly facing difficulty getting a job, house, loan and many other things. A lawyer can help you to understand whether or not you are eligible for expungement.

If you are not sure whether or not your criminal record is eligible for expungement, contact The Barrera Law Firm to learn more about the expungement process. It is no secret that having a criminal record has negative effects on every aspect of your life. Every time you apply for a loan, job or anything that requires a background check, you know that a criminal background may have negative consequences. Expunging your record can give you more freedom and ability to get where you want to go.

3 Qualifications for an Expunction

The lawThe law regarding expunctions in Texas is outlined in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Generally, one qualifies for an expunction if:

1. they have had their case dismissed; or
2. they were found “not guilty” at trial; or
3. they were arrested, but the statute of limitations has passed on the offense they were arrested for.

In Cameron and Hidalgo Counties, the successful completion of a pre-trial diversion contract may result in a dismissal, in which the case may be expunged. Hidalgo and Cameron Counties may have language in the pre-trial diversion contract, stating that the record of arrest may be expunged with everyone except the district attorney’s office.

An expunction can be very useful in that a record of arrest and prosecution, may be viewed by potential employers, schools, licensing boards, banks, apartment complexes, and other organizations when doing a background check. The criminal event itself may prejudice the person from the full consideration they deserve. It is important that a competent attorney be consulted on whether one qualifies for an expunction and what one’s rights are regarding the clearing of the record of arrest and prosecution from background checks.

The Barrera Law Firm, PC is here to help you determine if you are a good candidate for a petition for expunction and if we accept your case, our firm will guide you and assist you through the entire process for a reasonable fee.

Call 956 428 2822 for a free consultation.