Having a criminal record often causes problems for people as they try to get jobs, get into schools or the military, or even find an apartment. Some criminal cases can be expunged from your record. For example, this is an option when your case is dismissed and when you are found Not Guilty at trial. Sometimes the State simply agrees with my expunction request, but sometimes I must have a contested hearing in front of a district court judge. Many lawyers shy away from having these hearings, but I have found judges to be fair when it comes to citizens being falsely accused. Once an expunction order is signed by the judge, all agencies that have any evidence you were ever charged with that criminal case are ordered by the court to destroy the records related to your arrest. This includes the police agency, the sheriff's department, the district attorney's office, and even private agencies like publicdata.com.
No. A conviction will always remain on your record. This is why it is so important to hire the right criminal defense lawyer at the beginning of your case, so that they can do everything possible to prevent a conviction. It is not unusual for someone to come to me after being off probation for years and ask if I can expunge his record. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do for this person because his original attorney's work cannot be undone.
There are some instances where Texas law allows you to "seal" your criminal record even if you do not qualify for an expunction. This is done by filing what is called a Petition for Non-Disclosure. For example, if you plead no contest to a charge and successfully complete deferred adjudication probation, you can get your record sealed in most cases. This is different from an expunction, because the charges remain on your record but can only be viewed by individuals with special access. This includes government agencies such as police and prosecutors, as well as private employers with security clearance. However, most prospective employers and others will not be able to see the charge when they do a background check.