How Expungement of Criminal Records in Texas Can Improve Your Life
Friday, Aug 17, 2018 by Brian Laviage
A criminal record has the potential to affect just about every area of your life. In the state of Texas, people who meet requirements established by current laws have the right to request what is known as an expungement of a criminal record.
Often referred to within the state’s laws as expunction, factors such as the nature of the criminal activity and conviction, how much time has passed since the conviction, and other elements will determine if the person is eligible for this type of action. If you are wondering if expungement would make a difference for you, consider these ways that successfully petitioning the court to expunge your record could make a difference.
Understanding the Concept of Expungement
Expungement is a legal process designed to seal or at least make unavailable the record of a criminal conviction. The process is similar to what is sometimes referred to as an Order of Nondisclosure, but is designed to be more comprehensive. While the nondisclosure order would prevent information about the conviction showing up in records that are readily available to the general public, an expungement prevents the information from showing up in searches by private entities.
The laws governing expungement vary from one state to the next. When seeking any type of criminal record expungement, it’s necessary to petition the court where the conviction occurred. This means if the conviction occurred in Texas, the petition to expunge your record must be filed with the court in Texas.
The Legal Basis for Expungement in Texas
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides the basis for seeking the expungement of a criminal record. Specifically, Title 1 Chapter 55 addresses the grounds for seeking this action, how a relative may seek expungement for someone who has died, and the procedure that must be followed in order for the court to consider the petition.
Amendments to the current code are considered and enacted from time to time. This ensures the contents of the code remain relevant to and in compliance with any other parts of Texas law that could have some bearing on the potential to petition and receive expungement of a criminal conviction.
Not everyone who seeks to have a conviction expunged will be successful. Even so, individuals who believe they meet the qualifications found in current laws would do well to petition for an expungement. Doing so will result in a number of benefits.
Expungement and Your Chances of Being Accepted into College
Criminal convictions of any type can have a bearing on whether or not certain universities will accept people as students. In some cases, the nature of the crime involved will be enough to stop the application process immediately. At other schools, more information about the nature of the conviction may be requested before a decision is made.
At the very least, a conviction limits the number of educational institutions that would accept the individual as a student. By having the record sealed, this issues increases the odds of being able to attend the school of your choice.
Expungement and Obtaining Professional Licensing and Certification
There are professions that require licensing and certification in addition to formal training. In terms of having a criminal record, you could find securing the certification and licensing difficult. In some instances, it will be impossible. That means even if you have the training, functioning in that career will be impossible.
If the court chooses to expunge your record, information about the conviction will no longer turn up in a background check. The result is that you have one less complication to address before it’s possible to work in your chosen field.
Expungement and Obtaining Employment
It’s no secret that many employers conduct background checks before hiring new employees. That usually includes checking for information about any type of criminal convictions. Depending on the type of job you are attempting to secure, one conviction from your teenage years may be all it takes to remove your name from the running. Even if you have excellent references, a reasonable amount of work experience, and a high credit score, that conviction will be grounds enough to reject your application.
Once your record is cleared, information about the conviction will no longer appear in a routine background check. Thanks to the expungement, a prospective employer will focus on the details of your work history and other factors rather than the mistake you made years ago.
Financing Options and the Need for Expunging Your Record
Did you know that a criminal conviction can impact your ability to obtain financing for major purchases like a home? It’s true that a conviction may not rule out the possibility altogether. What you will find is that lenders who are willing to work with you are likely to charge a higher rate of interest. This is because that conviction, no matter how long ago it occurred, compels the lender to see you as a higher risk client.
Once your record is sealed and no longer shows up on the background check, that prior conviction will not have any impact on your ability to obtain financing. Along with more lenders wanting to work with you, there is a better chance of being offered a more favorable rate of interest and other terms.
Social Standing and Memberships in Private Clubs
Social organizations, particularly private clubs, establish qualifications that every prospective member must meet. In some instances, that means not having any type of criminal activity show up on a routine background search. As in other situations, it won’t matter if your conviction took place many years ago and you’ve had no brushes with the law in the interim. That one conviction will be enough to bar you from the club and effectively kill any chances for furthering your career through making social and business contacts through that organization.
When your lawyer convinces the court to expunge your record, details about that long-ago conviction are no longer available. Your chances of being accepted into the club and networking with people who can help you in your career are once again high.
Even Your Romantic Prospects are Affected
You may not think that a conviction from long ago would affect your love life, but that’s not the case. Thanks to the ability of anyone to obtain public records via the Internet, someone who you approach can easily pay a small fee and find out all sorts of things about your past. That includes learning all about the indiscretion you made back in the day. Depending on the nature of the conviction, the object of your interest may decide that pursuing a relationship is out of the question.
By successfully having your record expunged, there is one less issue to raise concerns. Instead, the person you are interested in getting to know better will focus mainly on the type of person you are today. Where things go from there is up to you.
The bottom line is that a criminal conviction, even after you pay your debt to society, will close quite a few doors. Instead of having to deal with decreased opportunities on many fronts, why not find out if current Texas laws would allow you to receive an expungement? A lawyer who understands the laws and legal precedents that are relevant to your situation can review the case and help you determine if petitioning the court to seal your record has a chance of succeeding. If so, the time and effort to try is certainly worth it.