If you were charged with a crime in the past, you likely have a criminal record. Depending on the offense, your criminal history may follow you for the rest of your life. This means that potential employers, educational institutions, and private citizens may be able to view your criminal record. Having a criminal record may result in the loss of your job, the loss of custody of your child, and limits on your options of where you can live. Fortunately, the law in Williamson County, Texas, allows for the sealing of your criminal record in certain situations. If you successfully get your criminal record sealed, your criminal history will be hidden from public view, protecting your privacy, opening up possibilities for employment, and restoring your good name.
Getting your criminal record sealed can be a complex legal process that involves filing petitions and potentially making arguments in front of a judge. For this, you will likely need a Williamson County criminal attorney. Read more on how to seal criminal record attorney williamson county tx.
Criminal Records Explained
Your criminal record contains a list of all the criminal charges that have been filed against you and their outcome. This is true even if the charges against you were eventually dismissed. For example, if you were charged with simple assault, and the charges were eventually thrown out due to a lack of evidence, your criminal history will reflect that outcome. Similarly, if you were charged with possession of marijuana and were found guilty after a trial, this too will be on your criminal record. In Texas, just about anyone that wants to view your criminal history can do so by requesting a copy of it through the courts or law enforcement.
Sealing Your Criminal Record
It is important to understand that sealing your criminal record does not mean that the information in it will be erased. Instead, sealing is a way to prevent the general public from viewing what is on your criminal history report. There are many reasons why you may want to seal your criminal record. The most common reason is to prevent prospective employers from viewing it. Critically, if you successfully get your record sealed, you do not have to disclose to an employer that you were charged with the offense that is sealed. You can legally decide not to disclose the offense to employers, educational institutions, and other entities.
Only Certain Offenses Can Be Sealed
The law in Texas says that you can have your criminal record sealed if you were placed on deferred adjudication and the charges have been discharged or dismissed. You may also have your record sealed if you were found guilty of certain misdemeanor offenses. So, if you were charged with a felony in Williamson County and were found guilty at trial, then you will not be able to have your criminal record sealed. Only charges that were placed on deferred adjudication and were ultimately dismissed, or certain misdemeanor charges, will be eligible to be sealed. For some charges, you may be required to wait several years after your case has been resolved before you will be eligible to request that your record be sealed.
Petitioning The Court
In most cases, to have your record sealed, you must petition the court. This means that you must file specific legal documents asking the court to seal your record. The court will then review your petition, and you may have to attend a court hearing where a judge will listen to arguments on why your record should be sealed and decide whether to grant the request. Again, only certain offenses may be sealed, and the law lists some criminal charges that are not eligible to be sealed under any circumstance. Some of the charges that can never be sealed are:
- Sexual Assault
- Child Abuse
- Family Violence
- Child Endangerment
Asking the court to seal your record is just one of the ways to prevent individuals and entities from viewing your criminal history report. If your charges are not eligible to be sealed, then you may be able to get them removed from your record through the legal process of expungement. Unlike having your record sealed, expungement erases the criminal charges from your record entirely, making it visible only to law enforcement and court personnel. Still, you may only have a criminal charge expunged if the charges were later dismissed, you were found not guilty, you were pardoned, or you were wrongfully convicted. In other words, if you were charged with a crime in Texas and you either pled guilty or were found guilty at trial, you will not be eligible for expungement of that offense.
Williamson County Criminal Defense Attorneys
Your good name and reputation are important. If you have charges on your criminal record, then you could end up missing out on job opportunities or face difficulty in a child custody matter. It is important to remember that even if the charges against you were dismissed, the fact that you were arrested and charged might still be on your criminal record.