Fort Worth DWI Case Expunction
In Texas, DUI applies to people under twenty-one years of age. DWI is the charge if someone was driving while intoxicated, but DWI cases are excluded from eligibility for deferred adjudication. So a distinction for DWI is that there is no way to get a DWI sealed from your record. However, if the case can be dismissed, or the person found not guilty, then it can be expunged. Sometimes we are able to get DWIs reduced, or changed to a non-DWI offense, such as obstruction of a highway. If we can get deferred adjudication for the obstruction of a highway charge and the person can successfully complete this, that record can be sealed. Some waiting periods apply to a motion for non-disclosure or sealing.
If it is a felony, the person has to wait five years after completing the deferred adjudication before they can file the petition to seal their record, or for non-disclosure. If it is a misdemeanor, then they may have to wait two years. If the offense involved kidnapping, assault, offense against the family, disorderly conduct, obstruction, or any type of weapons offenses, if it has any type of sexual nature to it, but it was a misdemeanor, then there is a two-year wait after completing the deferred adjudication before eligibility for the non-disclosure, or motion to seal. However, if it was one of many other misdemeanor offenses, such as theft, possession of marijuana, the person can seal it immediately after completing the deferred adjudication.
If you have been charged with a DWI and would like to begin the expunction process, please contact one of our skilled Fort Worth expunction lawyers.
Record Sealed vs Record Expunged
When people talk about having a record sealed, they are usually referring to what is called a Motion for Non-disclosure. Some people refer to that as a motion to seal. That is under a different part of the criminal code, which allows records to be sealed in certain situations, and is not as limited as those that can be expunged. So if a person received a deferred adjudication for anything greater than a class C misdemeanor, such as any class B, or A misdemeanor with certain felony offenses, that record can possibly be sealed. Therefore, there are certain offenses that are excluded from the right to seal that record, or the right to have an order of non-disclosure entered.
However, if it is an offense that is eligible for sealing, or non-disclosing, what happens is an attorney prepares a petition for non-disclosure, which is filed in the court where the person received the deferred adjudication probation. When that is granted, that causes the records to be sealed from public view, meaning that they do not show up on a public background check. Again, the person is legally entitled to say that it never happened. So, when they are filling out applications, or other forms, and asked about whether or not they have ever been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, they can say no, if that arrest has been sealed.
A distinction between this and an expunction is that law enforcement maintains a record even though the matter has been sealed. The distinction between sealing, and expunging, is sealing causes it to be sealed from public view; expunction causes it to be erased, deleted and destroyed. It is not available to anyone, even the government, although I suspect that the FBI and the NSA may have their ways of finding out. Therefore, a non-disclosure, or a sealing is not quite as good as an expunction, but it is a good avenue to help clear a person’s record from the public.
The distinction between eligibility for expunction, sealing, or non-disclosing is that to be eligible to expunge a case, the case must have been dismissed, or the person must have been found not guilty, or the case was never filed, and the statute of limitations has expired. If that is the case, then a person is eligible to expunge the record of arrest, or the record of arrest in the case. If the person’s case was not dismissed, and they were not found not guilty by trial, or jury trial, but they got deferred adjudication, and successfully completed the deferred adjudication, then they may be eligible to seal that. There are some offenses, specifically involving family violence, particularly sexual offenses that are not eligible to be sealed from a person’s record.
Who Is Eligible To Have Their Case Or Record Expunged In Fort Worth?
The person who was the subject of the arrest becomes eligible for expunction. It is accomplished by filing what is called an ex-parte petition in district court to expunge the records. If the judge grants it, then the agencies are notified to expunge the records by deleting computer entries either erasing, or destroying the entries, and then returning such entries to the court for destruction, or certifying that the records have been deleted.