A Reputable San Antonio Expunction Defense Lawyer Assists with Sealing of Criminal Records
Clearing your name and sealing your record
Criminal charges stay on your record for years after your offense, even if you were found not guilty. To clear your name, work with Attorney Gary Churak of the Law Offices of Gary Churak, P.C. He assists people with criminal charges or juvenile delinquency on their records to give them a better future. With more than three decades of legal experience, Attorney Churak is fluent in this process, so work with him to restore your reputation and avoid the embarrassment that comes with having a criminal past.
You must meet certain eligibility standards to benefit from an expunction
Expunging your record simply means that you clear it of any past charges against you. These could be for criminal offenses or acts of juvenile delinquency. While you might not have a guilty verdict on your record, any criminal charges against you at all can paint you in a negative light in background checks for jobs, volunteer positions or military service. You never want your potential employers to have a bad first impression of you, especially one that gives them a completely false picture of who you are as a person.
Therefore, it’s extremely beneficial for you to file for an expunction. Do this with the help of a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer if you meet the following standards of eligibility:
- The charges you received resulted in a not guilty verdict in your trial.
- Your arrest never led to a court filing or your case was dismissed from court.
- You committed an underage drinking offense and are now at least 21 years old.
- You committed a crime as a child, went to juvenile court and fulfilled the time obligations necessary before petitioning for an expunction.
Expungement of juvenile records is not quite as simple as one might expect. The courts do not automatically clear your record after a certain amount of time or after you turn 18. You must fulfill certain requirements and then petition the court for expungement, just as people with criminal charges on their record must do.
Call for assistance from a San Antonio Non-Disclosure Attorney for sealing juvenile criminal records
Clear your record today — call the Law Offices of Gary Churak, P.C. at (210) 545-3850 or contact the firm online to schedule a free consultation. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with evening and weekend calls forwarded straight to Mr. Churak’s personal line.
What is Automatic Expunction Clarification
Expunge Juvenile Record In San Antonio
Interviewer: Aren’t criminal convictions automatically removed after seven years?
Gary Churak: No. Criminal conviction stays with you for the rest of your life. A derogatory credit entry is removed after seven years. A criminal record stays with your for the rest of your life. I’ve had situations where a guy calls me up and he had a job for 40 years and he loses his job and now he’s out there looking for another job and he says “Well, I took a criminal background check and I’ve got this conviction on my record for marijuana and I don’t remember it ever happening to me.” Then he goes “Well, yeah, when I was in college, I got busted for pot. They took me in front of a judge. The judge said $200. Everybody paid and left.”
I said “Well, by doing that, you basically were found guilty of possession of marijuana and fined and it’s a permanent conviction on your record.” It doesn’t go away; even something as small as having some pot in college and not understanding the legal system can cause you grief 40 years down the road. Convictions don’t disappear.
Interviewer: What about marijuana convictions? Are they automatically removed after a number of years?
Gary Churak: No. Once again, any type of conviction is not automatically removed from your record, except for traffic tickets. They would be the only type of criminal situation that falls off your record. That falls off after three or four years. Anything else remains on your record forever. You get caught shoplifting when you’re a 17-year-old kid and you don’t have a good lawyer and somehow or another it winds up as a conviction, you’re convicted for theft for the rest of your life following you. It doesn’t go away. Marijuana doesn’t go away. Shoplifting doesn’t go away. It stays with you.
How to Expunge Juvenile Records
Interviewer: What about juvenile records? Are they automatically sealed when the person turns 18?
Gary Churak: It would depend on the type of case involved in the juvenile system. There are juvenile cases that can never be sealed if they are serious felonies. Then there are misdemeanors and certain felonies that can be sealed after certain periods of time, like on the 18th or 21st birthdays, but you have to take some action to seal them. They don’t automatically get sealed. Basically, you have to file a motion with the juvenile court to have the records sealed.
What is the Definition of Expunction in Texas?
Interviewer: What is an expunction?
Gary Churak: An expunction is basically a court order that is obtained to order law enforcement agencies, courts, district attorneys, county attorneys, government agencies that record criminal background information, and criminal background companies to delete any reference of an arrest and a case from their files. It basically seals the criminal case. In modern terms, it’s a digital lobotomy of the client’s criminal history.
Expunction Eligibility in Texas
Interviewer: How do I know if I qualify for an expunction?
Gary Churak: Under Texas law, an expunction is under Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. There are three ways you can get an expunction in Texas. The first case is that you were found not guilty by a jury. If you’re found not guilty by a jury, it automatically entitles you to qualify for an expunction. You still have to file it. You still have to go do the paperwork and everything. It’s not automatic, but it does qualify you for an expunction. The second type of expunction is if your case is dismissed outright, basically because of insufficient evidence or a witness not showing up or lack of evidence or probable cause. If the state dismisses your case, that would entitle you to file for an expunction of the arrest and the case.
The third type is if it’s a Class C misdemeanor, which you received deferred adjudication on. For instance, say you get pulled over for driving and you’re a minor and a you had a beer. They hit you for DUI (driving under the influence). Not a DWI, but a DUI, which is basically a minor with any kind of alcohol in his system. That’s a Class C misdemeanor. If you get a good attorney, the attorney will go in there and get you deferred adjudication probation. You’ll complete the probation, the case will be dismissed, and you can file an expunction of that particular case. Those are the three types of situations where you can get an expunction: not guilty, case dismissed, or deferred adjudication of a Class C misdemeanor.
Interviewer: Once my case has been expunged, will I be able to say that I’ve never been convicted for that particular crime?
Gary Churak: Well, no. Actually, under Texas law, if you are subject to an order of expunction, you can legitimately answer a question no that you’ve ever been arrested. They can never hold that against you. In fact, there are some criminal statutes that actually make it a crime to use against you a case that’s subject to an expunction – in other words, if they ever ask in an employment application if you’ve ever been arrested, you can legitimately answer “no” if your case has been subject to an expunction. I think you used a misnomer there. You can never expunge a case that you’ve been convicted on. Convicted means you’ve been found guilty and adjudicated. That doesn’t qualify you for an expunction, but if you’ve been arrested and you get an expunction, you can say, “No, I’ve never been arrested.”
Are there any Limitations of The Expunction Process
San Antonio DUI Expunction Attorney
Interviewer: What will an expunction not do?
Gary Churak: That’s kind of a broad question. The idea of an expunction is to remove the case forever from the databases. The only situation that an expunction will not do is sometimes dealing with the federal government on security background checks and high-security clearance deals. It’s possible that even with an expunction the feds can find out about it. I had a situation where the kid was trying to get in the army and there was no record of the criminal case, but somehow or another they found that expunction was filed, so they started asking him about what the expunction was about. Of course, he didn’t answer it, but if he doesn’t answer it, he’s not getting into the military. The feds are a different animal. For the most part, an expunction is forever and you can say goodbye to the criminal case.
How Does Traffic Offense Expunction Work.
Interviewer: Here’s one that we kind of touched on a little bit here, but we’ll go back to this just for the sake of the Q&A format. I believe it’s question number nine. Can a traffic offense such as a DUI be expunged?
Gary Churak: Offenses under the motor vehicle code, like a DWI or a DUI, would depend on the same situation that we talked about previously. If it’s a Class C misdemeanor DUI and you get deferred adjudication probation, then you can do an expunction. If you’re arrested for DWI and the case is dismissed, you can do an expunction. If you’re found not guilty, you can do an expunction. There’s no difference between traffic offenses under the motor vehicle code for DUI and DWI and other criminal cases.
Expunction & Non-Disclosure
Does it pay to hire an Expunction & Non-Disclosure Attorney
Interviewer: When a case gets dismissed, does it completely go off someone’s record?
Gary Churak: No, the arrest will still be on the record and the court proceedings are still on the record. That’s a misconception people have. If a case is dismissed, it does not completely disappear. What people have to do is come in and do what is called an expunction of the case. That’s basically a civil suit that you file to seal the records. If that is done properly, then the case disappears.
Interviewer: Let’s say, if someone had a misdemeanor or even a felony on their record, years prior, can they get that expunged? How does that work?
Gary Churak: As long as the case has been dismissed, or found not guilty, you can do an expunction. That’s the criteria for an expunction. It doesn’t matter when it happened, you could expunge a case that happened twenty years ago and get it off your record. There is no time limit on it. The only time limit is in order to have the expunction not cost anything; you have to do it thirty days after a not guilty verdict. Usually, you have to pay the court cost.
Interviewer: How much are the court costs?
Gary Churak: On an expunction, they can be up to 500 bucks, because you have to serve all the entities and everything.
Interviewer: What do you think, in Bexar County and surrounding counties, is it easy for someone to find a job or explain to their employer if they have a drug charge on their record?
Gary Churak: The times have changed. If you have any kind of criminal record, you’re not getting a job. That’s just the way it is nowadays. They do background checks on everything nowadays, and if you have anything on your record, especially the way the job market is today with trying to find people looking for jobs, you’re just not going to get that job. It’s important that you not have anything on your criminal record.
Interviewer: What do you recommend to someone you are working with who does have something on their record?
Gary Churak: It depends. If the case can be expunged, let’s do an expunction. If it can be non-disclosed, do a non-disclosure. If you can’t do any of that, we might look into executive clemency, a pardon, which is very difficult to get but not impossible. Those are the kind of options you look at.
Interviewer: Let’s say someone is a professional and they receive a possession charge for a little bit of marijuana on them? What if the person works in a professional atmosphere, whether it’s corporate or they work with the education system or maybe at a hospital? What would you recommend to them that will help their case? What kind of sobering truth would you tell them?
Gary Churak: Basically if you are convicted of this offense, you might as well go find another job somewhere. You will have licensing issues, especially in the medical profession; any type of drug case is a problem. Anytime you’ve got a criminal background check, it’s going to come up on it. So, the question is, how do we get this off your record and at what point and time? I’d try my darnedest to try to get this case dismissed or lowered to a maybe a Class C misdemeanor. We can do a deferred and come back in and do an expunction at a later date. There is some kind of maneuvering that you can do on the case especially if it’s a small amount of marijuana. A lot of times, we can do a pretrial diversion or something like that, that would be beneficial to the individual to keep it off his or her permanent record.
How is a Felony Expunged from your Permanent Record.
Felony Expunged In San Antonio
Interviewer: Can you expunge or reduce a felony?
Gary Churak: Yeah, any case is subject to getting an expunction. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony. If the conditions apply, you can get an expunction. You can be found not guilty of a murder and you can get an expunction of that case because you were found not guilty. With the aspects of a dismissal, it’s a little different because you have a limitations issue and you have to establish no probable cause and there are some technicalities to get an expunction of a felony that’s inside limitations and some cases have no limitations, so that’s sometimes an issue. But, yeah, expunctions apply both to felonies and misdemeanors.
What is the Timeline for the Expunction Process
Interviewer: How long does it take?
Gary Churak: It really depends on what county you’re dealing with. As a rule of thumb, I usually say it takes 90 to 120 days to get the paperwork all through the court system, get your order of expunction signed by the judge, and get it processed out through the courts and to the clerk’s office. Then add another six months to a year, sometimes, for the case to fall off the reporting agency’s data list. Here’s the way criminal background checks work: basically, what happens is the courts and law enforcement (like DPS, San Antonio Police Department, San Antonio District Clerk) throughout the state is they have all this information about your criminal cases and what happens is these criminal reporting agencies purchase this data information from them.
Whether they purchase on a monthly basis, quarterly basis, semi-annually basis, it just depends on what the contract is to update and purchase the information. The more reputable criminal background check people purchase on a regular basis – monthly or weekly or whatever. The less reputable, cheaper ones probably don’t do it that often. What happens is they purchase the information, so that’s what they use to do their criminal background checks. They have to basically update their system after the expunction to find out the expunction has been granted, where the information is not there anymore. It takes sometimes up to a year for the case to actually fall off the criminal background reporting agencies’ radar.