Texas law does allow individuals to permanently remove information about an arrest, charge or conviction from their permanent records in certain circumstances. This is called an expunction (or expungement). Once a person's record is expunged, all information is removed from the criminal record and that person can deny the incident ever occurred. Records eligible for expunction include:
Not all individuals with records eligible for expunction above qualify to receive an expunction. The Court will not grant an expunction to adults who have received deferred adjudication or probation or who have been convicted of a felony within five years of the arrest the person is seeking to have expunged. The Court will also not consider expunction if the offense is part of a "criminal episode" and the applicant for the expunction either has charges pending for a different crime that occurred during that same episode or the person was convicted of a crime that occurred during that same alleged episode.
Finally, a person cannot file a petition seeking expunction of a felony charge that has been dismissed if the statute of limitations for the crime subject to the dismissal has not yet expired. The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the state or county has to prosecute an action against a person after that person has been arrested for an offense. The statute of limitations is different depending on the crime, but most are at least three years.
In many instances, any record of a conviction for an offense that a person committed when that person was a minor can be expunged. A misdemeanor punishable by fine committed prior to the age of 17, an offense committed by a minor under the Alcoholic Beverage Code and a conviction for Failure to Attend School are all offenses that may be expunged. As in expunctions for an adult, the individual must follow certain procedures and meet specific criteria before the court will expunge the person's record. For example a person cannot apply for an expunction for a juvenile record until after that person has reached a certain age. Additionally, a person cannot have had multiple convictions.
When a juvenile offender is convicted of an offense, the courts are sometimes required to give the child and the child's parents information about the expunction process and how to apply for an expunction. Different procedures can apply to expunctions for juvenile offenses. Consequently, you should conduct additional research or consult an attorney before attempting to apply for an expunction of a juvenile record.