In Texas you can request certain criminal records are destroyed or expunged in what is called an expunction (or sometimes misspelled as expungement). An expunction orders public agencies, such as police departments, courts and the Department of Public Safety, to destroy records. The expunction will also order private entities that house and report this information to destroy their records as well. That is a tremendously powerful remedy for something that could have significant consequences on an individual’s employment and housing.
As an employment lawyer in Texas I thoroughly understand the significance that even a false arrest can have on a person’s employment opportunities. Many employers conduct background checks and an arrest may appear in an employment background check even if the arrest resulted in no further legal proceedings. In today’s job market that arrest may be the difference between a job and standing in the unemployment line.
Issues in a Texas Expunction
The first two issues to deal with in determining whether you should proceed with an expunction are: 1. whether the arrest and any subsequent proceedings qualify for an expunction; and 2. whether you meet the requirements to obtain an expunction at this time. Both of these issues are technical and are explored in the linked posts. (If you do not qualify for an expunction then you may qualify for an order of non-disclosure. Unfortunately non-disclosures do little to shield criminal records from public agencies who may be a future employer or issue a professional license.) If you are eligible for an expunction then you should decide whether it is worth your time and money to proceed with an expunction.
An expunction can often take several months to complete and it is not a cheap process. Once the court grants the expunction order it can still take some time to destroy records. An expunction requires a filing fee that is slightly more expensive than filing a civil lawsuit. You can expect to pay approximately $350 in filing fees just to get your foot in the courthouse.
It is often necessary to obtain certified copies of the arrest records and any court documents associated with the arrest. Certified copies are typically one dollar per page. If you decide an expunction may be necessary then you should start working on that process as soon as possible. That way you are not scrambling before filing a professional license application or searching for jobs.
Should I get an expunction in Texas with an employment attorney?
Generally it is a good idea to obtain an expunction if your arrest qualifies and you meet the statutory provisions. This is especially true for anybody seeking a professional license, such as a lawyer, doctor, nurse, or teacher. Although the Texas boards that oversee these professions tend to understand there are bad decisions hard to overlook. The closer the alleged offense in which underlies the arrest (or citation for a misdemeanor) relates to the job responsibilities for the job or license you seek the more likely it will be that the arrest or citation may play a role in whether you receive a job or license.
It is likely that you already believe you may need an arrest or citation expunged. You should contact my office to discuss your situation. We can review your options and whether an expunction would be in your best interests. You should contact an experienced Texas expunction lawyer to get started on your criminal background records.