Most criminal convictions will remain on a person’s record for a lifetime. However, there are circumstances under Texas law that allow the removal of arrests and convictions from an individual’s criminal history. Law enforcement officials refer to this process as an expunction.
Who is eligible
Those who are eligible for an expunction of a criminal record under Texas criminal law codes are people arrested for a crime but never convicted. This provision extends to people who were convicted but later pardoned for a crime.
Individuals released from jail without either a conviction or pending charges are also eligible for expunction, and no court order to serve community supervision must exist. The exception to this last fact is when the offense is a Class C misdemeanor. The following statutory periods also apply:
- 180 days for Class C misdemeanors with no felony charges resulting from the same arrest
- One year for Class A and B misdemeanors with no felony charges resulting from the same arrest
- Three years for felony convictions
Appellate court acquittal or State Attorney recommendation
Criminal convictions overturned by an appellate court also make the convicted person eligible for expunction. A state prosecutor can recommend the expunction of any arrest before a court tries a defendant for a crime. This provision is available for both felony and misdemeanor arrests.
Fraudulent name use
Individuals arrested because another person used their name after committing a criminal offense can have the arrest expunged. An attorney may help with this process.
Expunction eligibility exceptions
Not all criminal charges can be erased from record. The circumstances that can make a person ineligible for expunction include:
- Community supervision violations – Individuals arrested for violating the provisions of a community supervision order are not eligible for expunction.
- Bail revocations – Individuals who “abscond from a jurisdiction” after being released from jail on bond are exempted from expunction.
- Criminal episode – Texas criminal law prevents expunction for people who commit acts as part of a “criminal episode.”
Individuals living with a criminal record may experience bias in employment, education and other important areas of life. People who make a mistake that results in an arrest may be able to have the incident wiped from their record. For individuals with questions regarding the process, an attorney may provide guidance.