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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Can a criminal record be erased?

Updated: Jan 21

Conroe Expunction Attorney - Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal Law



Can a criminal record be erased? Yes. But in Texas you have to do a few things first.


  1. Get your case dismissed; or

  2. Win a trial and be found not guilty; or

  3. The prosecution fails to file or prosecute your charge and the statute of limitations expires.

  4. File for and get an expunction granted.


If you are charged with a Class B or higher level offense and you have agreed to deferred probation you are not eligible for an expunction. It doesn't matter if the case is eventually dismissed due to completing the deferred probation successfully you cannot get the record totally erased. You may be eligible for a non-disclosure, but those are not as good as an expunction.


Some of the most difficult conversations that we have with clients are over the phone consultations with people who have an old criminal conviction and are unable to seek gainful employment or housing because of their criminal record. Having to tell someone that they way their original lawyer handled the case and the plea bargain they agreed to prohibits them from ever getting the case expunged is very difficult. That it why it is critically important to talk with an attorney that you trust when confronting criminal allegations.


There are ways to get cases dismissed and expunged especially if you have never been arrested before. Every case is different and presents different challenges. You should talk with an attorney as soon as you realize you are charged with a criminal offense. Do not attempt to talk with the court or the prosecutors because you think its just a misunderstanding. They typically do not agree or the case would not have been filed in the first place.


The process of getting an expunction is to file a civil lawsuit in the courts of the county where the criminal offense occurred. Your attorney will notify the various law enforcement and court agencies that collected criminal history information and negotiate an agreed or other order with the prosecutors at the District Attorney's Office. If the judge grants an expunction then it becomes a crime for any government agency to possess or use criminal history information related to the expunged offense.


Here is the law from Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure that covers criminal penalties related to expunctions:


Art. 55.04. VIOLATION OF EXPUNCTION ORDER.Sec. 1. A person who acquires knowledge of an arrest while an officer or employee of the state or of any agency or other entity of the state or any political subdivision of the state and who knows of an order expunging the records and files relating to that arrest commits an offense if he knowingly releases, disseminates, or otherwise uses the records or files.Sec. 2. A person who knowingly fails to return or to obliterate identifying portions of a record or file ordered expunged under this chapter commits an offense.Sec. 3. An offense under this article is a Class B misdemeanor.
Added by Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 1880, ch. 747, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 29, 1977.

The process of getting an expunction is to file a civil lawsuit in the courts of the county where the criminal offense occurred. Your attorney will notify the various law enforcement and court agencies that collected criminal history information and negotiate an agreed or other order with the prosecutors at the District Attorney's Office. If the judge grants an expunction then it becomes a crime for any government agency to possess or use criminal history information related to the expunged offense.


The Texas Young Lawyers association provides a PDF explaining expunctions further. Unfortunately for most people the process of obtaining an expunction is too complicated and time consuming to make it practical to represent yourself in court. The courts will not refund you the costs of filing the case if it is not carried out quickly enough or if you are determined to not be eligible. Talking with an attorney can save you time and frustration in these processes. Additionally an attorney may be able to negotiate an early expunction where the district attorney waives the typical waiting periods.

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