THE TRUTH ABOUT EXPUNCTIONS
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There are few things worse than unexpectedly finding out you have a criminal record. This is especially true when you find out the hard way through a current or potential employer. Why does this happen more often than it should? There is a common misconception that when charges are dropped or rejected by the prosecutor’s office or the grand jury refuses to indict, that the record goes away with the case. Without question, dropped refused charges are a good thing. However, an arrested person must take the affirmative step of expunging the record after this happens.
Before 2011, those who were fortunate enough to realize an expunction was necessary to clear dropped charges from their record found that they were subject to waiting periods equal to the “statute of limitations.” This period ranges from 2 years to 10 years or more–and in the most serious criminal allegations, an infinite period.
The 2011 amendment to Section 55.01 Code of Criminal Procedure eased this restriction by providing significantly shorter waiting periods for all cases in which a person is “released” from the charge (including dropped charges and grand jury no-bills). The following expunction waiting periods now apply to individuals who have had their charges dropped in some way or another:
Class C Misdemeanor: 180 days
Class B or Class A Misdemeanor: 1 year
Felony Offenses: 3 years
No waiting period if the attorney representing the state certifies the file is no longer needed
At the risk of sounding unappreciative on one of the few occasions the Texas legislature has made it easier on people accused of criminal offenses (and their attorneys), the new version of the statute is somewhat of a Catch-22. If the case was refused by the prosecutor or rejected by the DA, it was likely because the facts presented no offense at all. An expunction to clear an arrest under these circumstances is requesting the arrest of “no offense at all” be cleared, not a Class A, Class B or Felony offense. Regardless, this is a step in the right direction for Texas Expunctions.
If you have a past arrest which was refused or rejected, you should contact an attorney who is versed in the most current developments of expunction law. Don’t let a criminal record sully your reputation when it doesn’t have to.