If you were wrongfully arrested for DWI/DUI in Texas, but managed to hire an experienced DWI defense attorney and fight off the charges, your nightmare may still not be over - even if you received deferred adjudication, even if your case was dismissed, or even if you were found not guilty!
The moment you were arrested and charged by Texas law enforcement, a public record came to life. The DWI record was forwarded from the police station to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), from the DPS to the Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC), and from the TCIC to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). In the age of frequent criminal background checks, that public record can continue to destroy your life, even if you were never convicted. Whenever you apply for a job, a mortgage, or college, you may have to face that fact that a criminal background check on the DPS website only costs $3 and can show that you were once arrested for DWI.
Luckily, Texas law allows citizens to clear their adult criminal records in some circumstances.
Criminal Expunction and Petition for Non-Disclosure
An expunction will basically erase your criminal record. Criminal justice agencies will no longer be allowed to release your criminal record except to a few government entities, and you'll be allowed to deny the arrest ever happened. If you meet one of the criteria listed later on in this article, you may be eligible for expunction in Texas.
A petition for non-disclosure isn't as strong as expunction. While it won't erase your criminal record of the DWI, it can still seal the offense file away from most of the public and give you the right to deny you were ever arrested in most cases. If you successfully complete deferred adjudication in Texas, you may be eligible for a petition of non-disclosure.
If you are ineligible for both expunction and non-disclosure, there are two difficult ways of clearing record till available to you. You can either trying to win a pardon from the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States, or you can try to file a writ of Habeas Corpus.
Eligibility for Expunction
In general, expunction applies for you if your charges were dismissed or if you won a not-guilty verdicts. If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for expunction in Texas:
- You were won a not-guilty verdict after trial.
- You were arrested but never formally charged with a DWI; the charge is no longer pending; and you have not been convicted of a felony in the 5 years preceding the date of the arrest to be expunged.
- You were charged, but the Court dismissed your charge and/or quashed the information or indictment; the statute of limitations for your charge has run; and you have not been convicted of a felony in the 5 years preceding the date of the arrest to be expunged.
- You were convicted but later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States.
- You were convicted at the trial level but then acquitted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
- You completed deferred adjudication or a Class C Misdemeanor.
- Another person pretended to be you when arrested, leading to a criminal record erroneously attached to your name.
Eligibility for Non-Disclosure
Non-disclosure applies on you only if you have successfully completed deferred adjudication for certain offenses. For most misdemeanor records, you can file a petition for non-disclosure immediately after completing deferred adjudication. For somemisdemeanors, such as assault, deadly conduct, and disorderly conduct, a petition for for non-disclosure can be filed 2 years after completing deferred adjudication. Forfelonies, a petition for non-disclosure can be filed 5 years after completing deferred adjudication. If either a 2- or 5-year waiting period applies to you, you must not be convicted or put on deferred adjudication for another offense during that period.
Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
Trying to navigate Texas criminal law on your own, especially as it relates to DWI charges, is possible to do, but can be difficult. If you've ever been charged with a DWI, or if you need help clearing any other criminal charge of your record, you need to get in touch with our experienced criminal defense attorneys. Contact The Kyle Law Firm today for a free consultation on any case.