Do I Need an Attorney to Expunge My Criminal Record?

In today’s society, employers, lenders, landlords and more are all trying to limit their liability and risk. One way that they do this is through background checks. Just like a credit history, a background check with some flaws in it can negatively influence lending and hiring decisions, and could get someone kicked to the bottom of a waiting list for housing.

A simple arrest record can legally give an employer a reason to not hire someone. This includes cases where no charges were filed or where the defendant was found innocent. Because of this it is highly important that anyone eligible for expunction under Texas law take the proper steps to make sure that eligible records be erased. The first step to consider is contacting a lawyer to help with the procedure.

Why is a Lawyer Necessary?

The process of filing for an expunction in Texas is not terribly complicated, but it needs to be done right the first time. The reality is that while many people are capable of handling the process on their own, there are too many chances to make mistakes during the filing process. The advice and expertise that a lawyer provides for this process can make a huge difference in the time frame for the expunction to be approved.

Attention to details in filing a petition for expunction is the most important part of the process. Even one mistake in the paperwork can lead to the petition being delayed or denied completely. It simply makes better sense to allow a law office that has processed hundreds or even thousands of these petitions to do the work, instead of trying to get the petition completely right at the first go. It is also necessary to be certain of eligibility for expunction of the records, because there are many factors that may keep someone from being eligible.

In the end it is better to consult a lawyer to be certain of eligibility and where the petition needs to be filed. Dealing with the court system can be a time consuming, confusing and frustrating process. There is a good reason why professional lawyers are there to help navigate it.

Avoiding Delays

Most arrest records already have a waiting period associated with them. During this time the arrest will appear on many different types of background checks, so even if the arrest never even led to charges being filed, it still appears on the record and causes damage to a person’s reputation. These waiting periods vary from:

  • 180 days for a class C misdemeanor
  • One year for a class A or B misdemeanor, to
  • Three years for a felony arrest.

During this entire waiting period, potential employers and other interested parties can access these records, limiting opportunities along the way. Once this waiting period expires, individuals should be ready to act quickly to clear the record. A lawyer can have the petition prepared and ready to file at the first opportunity, with all of the documents in perfect order. And the sooner the records are erased, the sooner a person can stop worrying about losing opportunities and potential income because of a simple arrest.

Many types of criminal records reflect poorly on a person’s character, even if this individual never committed a crime. Whether fair or not, this is a reality. Individuals with these types of records in Harris County need to be aware of their right to have their records erased, and act as quickly as possible to keep a clean personal history.

People underestimate the complexity of filing an expunction petition. To avoid delays and to ensure that the petition is filed correctly, it is important to hire an experienced expungement attorney. It could make all the difference between the success and failure of the expunction petition.

For more information about expunging your criminal record, contact The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp. Call 713-868-6100 or email for a free consultation.