By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
I get asked this question a lot by people that went through the system years and even decades before they come to see me.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 55 governs expunctions. It can be fairly complex in spots, but as a general rule you’re entitled to an acquittal on a Class B Misdemeanor or above if you’ve been tried and acquitted of the charges. Also, you’re entitled to expunction where you were arrested for a misdemeanor or felony offense and never charged by indictment or information and the statute of limitations has passed. On Class C Misdemeanors you’re generally entitled to expunction if you are placed on deferred adjudication and there is no community supervision ordered but there are exceptions.
Several Class C offenses can be used to enhance crimes in the future. An example is with a Class C assault with a family violence allegation. Even though it’s a Class C punishable by a fine only, a second offense — no matter how small — can be charged as a felony!
Other conditions of an expunction are that you are not subject to prosecution for anything else regarding the criminal episode which is the subject of the expunction and you can’t get an expunction if you were convicted of a felony offense within 5 years of the date of the arrest you are trying to get expunged.
Often people don’t know exactly what happened with their previous case. Finding out the legal result should be done prior to seeing a lawyer. Also the laws on expunctions change frequently so you may not want to assume you can get something expunged later because you never know when the Legislature and/or Governor in Austin will snatch that right away from you!
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice you should consult an attorney directly.