Can a Criminal Arrest Record Be Erased or Sealed?
Having a criminal arrest record can interfere with getting certain jobs, acquiring a concealed firearm license or even gaining approval of home loans — even though you have not been convicted. It usually pays to have a criminal arrest record expunged or at least sealed if you are eligible.
- Expunction of an arrest record means that the record is destroyed and no longer exists. It is as if the arrest never happened.
- Sealing an arrest record does not eliminate the record but rather restricts the public's access to the record.
You do not have to declare an expunged or sealed record when asked by employers or lenders on applications. However, certain government agencies still have access to sealed records.
Who can get arrest records expunged or sealed?
In general, anyone charged but not convicted can ask for an expunction, while those convicted may request their records be sealed.
Expunction is granted in Texas if you are acquitted by the court, pardoned based on innocence, or the charges were not prosecuted before the statute of limitations ran out. It must also be determined that your records have no bearing on any other case.
Requests for arrest records to be sealed include certain cases of deferred adjudication — where a defendant pleads guilty or no contest but is not sentenced pending fulfilling court-required action. These actions may include treatment, probation and community service. When the commitment is fulfilled, the conviction is removed but the arrest record remains.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you to file a request with the courts to have your arrest records expunged or sealed.