The unfortunate truth is that past legal mistakes can linger and haunt you. In the United States, approximately 5.17 million people faced the repercussions of felony convictions in 2020. It might feel isolating and overwhelming to face these challenges but know that you are not alone.
Notably, a legal pathway exists in Texas for those with a criminal history to clean the slate and start afresh. Whether you're wondering if felony can leave the country or how to improve your local opportunities, this pathway can provide potential solutions. Under specific conditions, it involves deleting a felony from your record, thereby lifting the heavy yoke of stigma attached to such a history.
Contrary to popular belief, the Constitution does not explicitly state the right to erase one's criminal record. As such, many people need to be made aware it's possible, contributing to the underutilization of this procedure.
Expungement is a statutory procedure that requires you to satisfy certain conditions to qualify. These include:
You must have been, or wrongly been, arrested.
The charge you wish to delete must have been a misdemeanor or felony.
You must not have been convicted or served probation for the charge.
Exceptions exist, so even if you were convicted of the charge, you may still have a chance if your conviction was later overturned. If you were acquitted or received an official pardon for the offense, you could potentially have your misdemeanors, along with felony charges, expunged.
It's advised to consult with a lawyer who specializes in expungement if you believe you qualify. Importantly, if you are on community supervision, you are ineligible for criminal record expungements, except deferred adjudication. This refers to a type of probation in Texas that allows you to keep your conviction off your record, usually in exchange for a guilty or no-contest plea to the charges.
The process begins by filing a petition for expungement and then appearing in court. These petitions can only be filed after the relevant waiting period or statute of limitations has expired. Usually, the expungement hearing takes place a month after filing the petition. In some cases, the court may take up to six months after the hearing to register the decision to delete.
If expungement is not an option for you, you can opt to limit the access to your record by applying for an "order of non-disclosure." This order seals your criminal record from the general public, making it accessible only to certain government agencies.
The cost of expunging a felony is generally higher than that of a misdemeanor. Typically, the cost of expunging a felony will be at least $1,000, but it may reach as high as $2,500. Expunging misdemeanors typically costs $1,000 or less.
For any record expungement or expunction, a filing fee of $300 applies and is a required part of the expungement process. In Texas, expungements typically cost around $1,500 on average. On top of the fees associated with the actual expungement, a lawyer can charge as much as $3,000 to expunge a criminal record.
If you’re unfamiliar with deleting a felony in Texas, you may have difficulty filing for an expunction. A criminal lawyer can help if you’re unfamiliar with the process. First and foremost, when you commit felony offenses, you must typically wait three years before you can file an expunction. When this time has passed, you may file the expunction in the country where law enforcement arrested you. The Department of Public Safety will also require that you provide appropriate identification and a fingerprint card.
After you file all the paperwork, the clerk will set a date for your hearing. The hearing usually happens 30 days or more after you file all the paperwork. You can ensure everything is in order when you file your criminal case with an attorney.
While expungement, which completely erases your record, is often the ideal outcome, it's only sometimes feasible, depending on your circumstances. In situations where expungement is not an option, you could be eligible to file for an order of non-disclosure.
This legal avenue doesn't eliminate your criminal history but effectively seals it from public view. While government or law enforcement agencies can still access these records, they are hidden from employers, landlords, and the general public. This can often significantly reduce the potential detrimental impacts of a criminal record on aspects like employment and housing queries.
Living with a criminal history can be mentally and emotionally taxing, especially when trying to move forward. Luckily, with Texas's laws around expungement and non-disclosure, those who qualify are given a chance for a fresh start. By carefully navigating this legal pathway under the guidance of an experienced lawyer, you can cast off your past mistakes and head towards a brighter future.
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