You get arrested when you are 20 years old and in college. A criminal charge gets filed, and you cannot believe the turn your life has taken. You never expected to be here and you worry about what it means for your future.
Ultimately, the charges get dismissed. You never go to trial, you never stand before a jury and you certainly never get convicted.
Is it over?
However, you still worry about your future. You may not be a criminal, but is that arrest on your permanent record? Are those charges on your record? Is your future employer going to run a background check, see that record and decide they should hire someone else?
After all, they may have plenty of applicants. If all things are equal in terms of education and experience, will they go with the person with a clean record or the person with charges that got dismissed? You are afraid that you already know the answer.
You decide to go forward with an expunction. You have heard that it strips the events off of your record. It gives you that clean slate. When you finish up college and go out to look for a job, this whole situation will look like nothing but a minor speed bump.
But what if they ask you about your record? Can you deny that any of the events took place?
You can. Under Texas law, once the expunction goes through, you can deny that any of it happened. You can tell them you have no record, and that's the truth. You can legally say you never got involved with the law.
You probably will never need to do this. When they run that background check, they won't find anything. That's probably the end of it. But this shows you how completely expunction erases your record. It is gone.
It is important to note that you cannot do this with all records. Issues that are eligible, which you can ask to have expunged, include the following:
- A criminal conviction for which the United States President or the Governor of Texas gave you a pardon.
- A criminal conviction that went before an Appeals court and was acquitted.
- A conviction that the trial court itself acquitted.
- Convictions, charges and arrests after identity theft.
- Failure to Attend School convictions.
- Convictions for specific minor alcohol violations.
- Some (but not all) juvenile misdemeanors.
- Charges that got dismissed in the end, as yours did in the example above.
- Arrest records that never led to official charges at all.
This is a complex process. Make sure you know exactly how it works and what rights you have if you want to clear your record.