Many people that submit an application for a job, student financial aid, rental property, college application, home loan or similar opportunity find their request denied with no justification provided by the decision-maker. Sadly, the basis for this denial is a criminal record that the applicant has no idea even exists. There is a misconception shared by many in Texas that if they are not convicted of a crime or successfully complete probation they do not have a criminal record. In reality, anyone who has been arrested will have a criminal record even if the district attorney dismisses the charges. At the Law Offices of Lori Elaine Laird PLLC, we have helped many people reclaim their future by clearing their criminal record through the expungement process or pursuit of an order for non-disclosure.
If you have been arrested in Texas for a felony or misdemeanor, you have a criminal record even if no formal criminal charges were filed; your case was dismissed; or you were acquitted after trial. Effectively, you have a criminal record if you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Texas, even a fairly minor misdemeanor. These criminal cases may be discovered by employers, landlords, lenders or academic institutions that perform background checks. It is estimated that eighty percent of all employers now conduct criminal background checks during the hiring process.
Fortunately, the negative blemish of a criminal arrest and/or criminal charges that can impact your personal and professional reputation may be removed from your criminal record through the expungement process. Expungement is available in the following situations depending on the specific alleged offense
- Class C misdemeanors (i.e. disorderly conduct, public intoxication)
- No formal charges filed
- Charges dismissed
- Acquittal after trial
The requirements involved in seeking expungement can be complicated and the application may be opposed by the prosecutor so it is important to have an experienced Harris County or Fort Bend County criminal defense attorney like Lori Laird on your side. There is a minimum period of time that must elapse before seeking expungement, which amounts to two years if you are seeking expungement of a misdemeanor. Ms. Laird can evaluate whether you are eligible for expungement and prepare your Petition for Expungement. The petition must include a range of information, such as your personal information, criminal offense to be expunged, law enforcement agencies with the records, and the legal/factual basis for granting your request.
The court will schedule a hearing where your request will be granted if it is not opposed. If the petition for Expungement is contested, Ms. Laird can represent you and advocate for your interest at the hearing. If you are charged with any criminal offense in a Harris or Galveston County criminal court, Ms. Laird may seek deferred adjudication so that there is no disposition until you complete probation. If you successfully complete probation, the charges may possibly be dismissed possibly leaving you eligible to seek expungement once the waiting period has elapsed.
Even in cases where you are not eligible for expungement, Ms. Laird may still be able to prevent public disclosure of your criminal case by filing a Petition for Non-Disclosure. If this process is successful, law enforcement agencies and courts will be barred from disclosing information about your criminal case to third parties like employers, loan agencies, landlords, educational establishments and others.