Criminal Record Expungement

The Barrera Law Firm serves the entire Rio Grande Valley and offers criminal record expungement in Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen and beyond. Criminal record expungement is the sealing of criminal records, clearing criminal records so that records of arrest or prosecution that you may have will not be available to prospective employers, loan officers, apartment managers, college admission personnel or other officials.

It is an important service so that you can effectively move on with your life.

Deferred adjudication, which is pleading guilty to an offense, but having the court defer the plea of guilt for a period of months or years as long as the person complies with the conditions of the court will not necessarily protect you in this case. The guilty plea is never entered and they do not have a conviction on their record, however, there is a record of arrest and prosecution.

So do not let chance or a past mistake or even an error with the justice system allow the remainder of your life to be disrupted. Contact us for a free consultation on criminal record expungement.

Expungement vs. Orders of Non-Disclosure in Texas

Your criminal history follows you everywhere. Whether you are asked to describe it on job, housing and educational loan applications or are pulled over for a traffic stop, others will want to know whether your past includes incidents of breaking the law.

Fortunately, Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure offers those with a criminal past to clear their records through expungement and orders of nondisclosure. If you are granted either an expungement or order of nondisclosure (or in the case of those under 18, a motion to seal a juvenile criminal record), arrest records and convictions for certain crimes will be permanently deleted from your record. That means criminal information will no longer be available to the public when background checks of any kind are run on you.

Expungement means that records they are removed from all criminal history databases. An order of nondisclosure is slightly different in that it gives applicants the right to not disclose prior arrests, crimes for which he or she was acquitted or pardoned and convictions for which the applicant successfully completed conditions of public service, counseling or probation/parole. Both are designed to help applicants regain public respectability and the opportunities that come with it.

Where young people are concerned, Texas laws allow for the sealing of juvenile records under some circumstances, which makes those records unavailable for any purpose at any time.  This means that a child with an otherwise unblemished record can apply for scholarships, student loans, public educational grants and on-campus housing when he or she goes to the university.

Regardless of whether you are seeking either an expungement or order of nondisclosure for yourself or the sealing of juvenile records for your child, the Barrera Law Firm can help. Our attorneys understand the exacting nature of the application process for all three of these procedures and that proper filing of application materials is critical to success. When you’re looking for a new lease on a better life for yourself or a loved one, let us be your guide.

Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono

 

Do You Qualify for Expunging Your Criminal Record?

\Have you ever noticed the section on job applications and college financial aid applications that asks you if you have a criminal record, or if you have ever been arrested?

That information is required because many employers do not hire anyone with a criminal background, and felons are not permitted to apply for federal loans for college. Perhaps you’ve considered just not mentioning your criminal background the next time you apply for a job, but the truth is your prospective employer may find out and the likelihood is that you will lose your job and your good reference.

Fortunately, for Texas residents there is a solution to the problem of a criminal record. Some Texas residents are eligible for having their criminal records expunged. A criminal record in Texas may still exist even after a dismissal, a not guilty verdict, or the completion of a pre-trial diversion program because the record of arrest and prosecution may still be visible upon a routine background check.

You might have a criminal record even if you were never convicted of a crime. If you were arrested but never charged, charged but your case was dismissed, completed a pre-trial diversion program and your case was dismissed, or you underwent a trial where you were found not guilty, you still may have a criminal record. Without an expungement, you are possibly facing difficulty getting a job, house, loan and many other things. A lawyer can help you to understand whether or not you are eligible for expungement.

If you are not sure whether or not your criminal record is eligible for expungement, contact The Barrera Law Firm to learn more about the expungement process. It is no secret that having a criminal record has negative effects on every aspect of your life. Every time you apply for a loan, job or anything that requires a background check, you know that a criminal background may have negative consequences. Expunging your record can give you more freedom and ability to get where you want to go.

Deferred Adjudication and Criminal Background Checks

Will a criminal background check show my arrest if my conviction was deferred or I received a period of deferred adjudication?

ORDER OF NON-DISCLOSURE CAN SEAL YOUR RECORD FROM CERTAIN CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS

Your record of arrest will still come up on a criminal background check unless you take further legal steps after you successfully complete your period of deferred adjudication.

Texas law allows a person who has successfully finished a court ordered period of deferred adjudication to request from the court an order of nondisclosure that prohibits the government from disclosing to the public criminal information related to that offense.

Additionally, the government is permitted to release criminal history information related to an order of nondisclosure to criminal justice agencies and authorized government agencies.

ORDER OF NON-DISCLOSURE IS NOT PERMISSIBLE FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES

You may not file to seal your records from criminal background checks if you were convicted of:

  • Indecency with a Child
  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Prohibited Sexual Conduct (such as Incest)
  • Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Compelling Prostitution
  • Sexual Performance by a Child
  • Injury to a Child
  • Violation of a Protective Order
  • Any Offense Involving Family Violence
  • Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography
  • Unlawful Restraint, Kidnapping, or Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Murder and Capital Murder
  • Attempt, Conspiracy, or Solicitation to Commit any of the Above Offenses

AN ORDER OF NON-DISCLOSURE IS NOT EFFECTIVE BY CERTAIN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND LICENSING BOARDS

A criminal justice agency may disclose criminal history record information that is the subject of an order of nondisclosure to the following noncriminal justice agencies or entities only:

  • the State Board for Educator Certification;
  • a school district, charter school, private school, regional education service center, commercial transportation company, or education shared service arrangement;
  • the Texas Medical Board;
  • the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired;
  • the Board of Law Examiners;
  • the State Bar of Texas;
  • a district court regarding a petition for name change under Subchapter B, Chapter 45, Family Code;
  • the Texas School for the Deaf;
  • the Department of Family and Protective Services;
  • the Texas Youth Commission;
  • the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services;
  • the Department of State Health Services, a local mental health service, a local mental retardation authority, or a community center providing services to persons with mental illness or retardation;
  • the Texas Private Security Board;
  • a municipal or volunteer fire department;
  • the Texas Board of Nursing;
  • a safe house providing shelter to children in harmful situations;
  • a public or nonprofit hospital or hospital district;
  • the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission;
  • the securities commissioner, the banking commissioner, the savings and mortgage lending commissioner, or the credit union commissioner;
  • the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy;
  • the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation;
  • the Health and Human Services Commission;
  • the Department of Aging and Disability Services; and
  • the Texas Education Agency.

WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER GETTING YOUR RECORD SEALED?

You may tell your private employers that you have not been convicted of the crime that was sealed, you may feel more confident when a criminal background check is performed by a non-government agency, and you can seal your record from the public.

Contact The Barrera Law Firm to find out whether you qualify for the application process through a free in-person or over the phone consultation.

How Can You Expunge Records in Texas?

The law in Texas never intended that persons who were arrested but never convicted have their records stained for life. Background searches are cold and matter of fact. They do not clarify or explain injustices. In a very competitive job market, a record of arrest or prosecution in one’s background may be perceived negatively.

Generally, the following factors must be involved, among other things to successfully apply:

1) Case dismissed by prosecutor and accepted by the court.
2) Case dismissed by prosecutor and accepted by the court following the successful completion of a pre-trial diversion program.
3) Not guilty verdict at trial and no appeal pending.
4) Arrested and case rejected by prosecutors at intake because of lacking elements for successful prosecution.
5) Arrested and no action (complaint) taken after one year by prosecutors for a Class A or B misdemeanor.
6) Arrested and no action (indictment) taken after three years by prosecutors for a felony case or misdemeanor if a felony was one of the charges out of the same arrest or case.

In any of the above circumstances, it is possible for District Attorney’s Office, DPS or other law enforcement agencies to object to the expunction and prove to the court why the record should remain because of an ongoing investigation or some other clear and convincing reason as to how justice would be served.

Some jurisdictions in Texas will oppose an expunction for a felony that was dismissed if the person pled guilty to a misdemeanor as part of the plea bargain stemming from the same arrest or case. However, at the time of this writing, this is not settled law, or law that has been adopted by the 13 Court of Appeals, which reviews cases for a large portion of South Texas that includes Cameron and Hidalgo Counties. The Barrera Law Firm feels that this law does not comply with the intent of our Texas legislators and goes against the basic policy underlying plea bargains.

3 Qualifications for an Expunction

The law regarding expunctions in Texas is outlined in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Generally, one qualifies for an expunction if:

1. they have had their case dismissed; or
2. they were found “not guilty” at trial; or
3. they were arrested, but the statute of limitations has passed on the offense they were arrested for.

In Cameron and Hidalgo Counties, the successful completion of a pre-trial diversion contract may result in a dismissal, in which the case may be expunged. Hidalgo and Cameron Counties may have language in the pre-trial diversion contract, stating that the record of arrest may be expunged with everyone except the district attorney’s office.

An expunction can be very useful in that a record of arrest and prosecution, may be viewed by potential employers, schools, licensing boards, banks, apartment complexes, and other organizations when doing a background check. The criminal event itself may prejudice the person from the full consideration they deserve. It is important that a competent attorney be consulted on whether one qualifies for an expunction and what one’s rights are regarding the clearing of the record of arrest and prosecution from background checks.

The Barrera Law Firm, PC is here to help you determine if you are a good candidate for a petition for expunction and if we accept your case, our firm will guide you and assist you through the entire process for a reasonable fee.

Call 956 428 2822 for a free consultation.

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