How does the pardon process or the expungement process work?
The expunction or pardon process, is an area of law that focuses on clearing your past criminal history. That person has grown up and matured. Their situation in life has changed and they have a high level of responsibility. They would like to go back and change certain events in their past. Depending on their past criminal involvement and criminal history, that may be possible.
There are three ways to clear a person’s record:
1) Having your records sealed
Or more specifically, in Texas, having an Order of Non-Disclosure. That’s where you get an order to prevent the general public from being able to look your criminal history. That’s one way of protecting your privacy or past criminal history.
An expunction is a physical eradication of your criminal history. It’s where you can have your records destroyed. We’re talking literally destroyed. An order goes out where the court orders all the information from your records, guard them together, and then actually physically destroy those records. It is like they never actually happened.
3) Pardon process
That is where you ask the Board of Pardon & Paroles and basically the State Government through the Governor’s Office to pardon you for past offenses. Then you would be eligible for that expunction and having your records eradicated.
Either one of those three are good ways or good options for persons that are seeking to have criminal histories to be either shielded, hidden, or completely destroyed. Of course, it’s just not automatic. You have to have meet certain criteria.
For the majority of people that have gone through the criminal process, the majority of those tools or those methods would not be available. The common rule is, if you were actually convicted it’s going to be there with you for the rest of your life unless you get a pardon. A criminal history is going to stay with you. However, if you’re placed on adjudication, then you could possibly ask the court to not disclose your records, or get an order for nondisclosure.
If you were found not guilty or had a case dismissed and did not receive a conviction, then those records can be expunged within a certain amount of time period. When a certain amount of time has passed or the prosecution is agreeable, you could have those records expunged.
Finally, if you go through the pardon process and have the Board of Pardon and Paroles or the Governor’s Office issue you a pardon, then you would have the right for an absolute expunction under that condition as well.
All three of those are methods if you need to grant criteria for persons to seek some assistance in having past youthful days or youthful transgressions to be erased from their record.
In a digital environment, does being expunged from the record and destroyed include all the digital items that are out there?
Yes, the biggest digital is the NCIC or theTCIC. Those are the Texas and the national repositories of criminal information that are held that various police agencies go to when you run a person’s record. An order is issued to those repositories, the FBI or whomever has those records destroyed.
The rub though is this order applies only to government agencies. It would not apply to a private entity that already has the information, is guarding orholding that information. If you’ve got a private business that happens to have records that a person was arrested for a DWI back when they were 18 years old, the expunction statute only would apply to a government holding facility. It does not apply to private entities.
With information today being shared so quickly, getting your records handled early on is a good idea. Once it’s on the internet, then in most cases a court order cannot solve that problem.
Do need legal help to make it happen?
There is a certain process within the agencies that govern these type of procedures. It would be wise to seek legal help. The pardon process is intensive with gathering information and making a proper application. A lawyer that is experienced in going thorough this process would be helpful. The expunction or the petition for non-disclosure requires the filing of an actual petition in a court to have that relief requested. Lawyers are not mandatory, but they certainly are helpful if you have no experience in doing this type of procedure or procedures.
At Keathley & Keathley, our staff has extensive knowledge and experience to help guide you through the Pardon or Expunction process. If you are facing one of these issues, please contact us today at (903) 417-0889.