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How to seek an expungement of your Texas criminal record

Even if the charge is minor or from decades ago, a criminal record can have a profound impact on your professional career. A pre-exisiting charge can make it difficult to get great jobs. Even if you wind up charged with a crime well after you've established yourself in your profession, your criminal record could make it harder for you to secure a promotion or move to a better job with a different company in the future.

Simply having a criminal record doesn't mean that you should give up on your professional aspirations, as just because you have had a run-in with the law in the past doesn't mean you'll have similar issues in the future. Instead, it might be wise to consider whether an expungement is an option in your case.

An expungement is a court process that can help you move forward after criminal charges. It removes blemishes from your record that could keep you from getting a job, securing housing or obtaining financial aid for higher education.

What offenses qualify for expungement in Texas?

The whole point of a criminal record is to help individuals check the backgrounds of potential employees, tenants or others that they would have frequents interactions with to avoid endangering themselves or others. Obviously, allowing violent criminals or repeat offenders to expunge their records would pose a risk to the public, so Texas carefully restricts what offenses an individual can seek an expungement for.

An expungement is typically only available for those with a Class C misdemeanor and even then, it only becomes an option if the defendant completed specific requirements set by the courts. It is also possible for juvenile offenders who were convicted of a crime committed before they turned 17 to secure an expungement.

Otherwise, only those who did not plead guilty to an offense or wind up convicted can seek an expungement. Even a no-contest charge may preclude someone from an expungement. However, an Alford plea may leave the door open to an expungement. An Alford plea occurs when the defendant states that they are innocent but they believe the defense has evidence that would convince the courts otherwise.

Do you have options if you can't secure an expungement?

Given the highly restrictive requirements for an expungement in Texas, there are quite a few otherwise upstanding citizens who may not have the option of having their criminal conviction removed from their record.

However, the courts may agree to seal the records of non-violent criminal convictions when the individual involved has not had additional charges brought against them since the date of their previous conviction. Instead of ignoring your criminal record, you can take action now to protect yourself and secure a better future.

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