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Exploring The Expungement Process and Eligibility Criteria for a DWI 2 in Texas



Exploring The Expungement Process and Eligibility Criteria for a DWI 2 in Texas

For many justice-involved individuals, expunging a criminal record can provide closure and a fair start at getting back on track following a conviction. Those with an expunged or sealed record are known to fare better in everything from job, education, and housing applications to custody battles and immigration status. While expunging a criminal record offers priceless benefits, the eligibility requirements can be confusing and complex, with many unaware if the process is available for their charges. Luckily enough, expungement is available for many common criminal charges including a DWI, DWI 2 and even a Texas felony DWI under specific circumstances. Here’s a guide to understanding the expungement process and whether your DWI 2 charges can be expunged in Texas.

Understanding Expungement Eligibility:

Unlike most states, in Texas, a DWI conviction does not phase out of your record after a certain period of time. While first-time DWI charges can be sealed, the only way to expunge a DWI in Texas is to avoid conviction. All convictions including those as common as a DWI or DWI 2 (which account for over 30% of annual DWIs in Texas) are ineligible for expungement. In Texas, your criminal charges may be eligible for expungement if they were dismissed, successfully appealed, or found not guilty.

Dismissal: Some of the most commonly employed defense strategies for a DWI 2 Texas can have your case dismissed altogether. Oftentimes a DWI arrest will hinge on the results of a breathalyzer test which have large margins of error and can deviate as much as 40% from an actual blood alcohol concentration. In cases where a breathalyzer test is deemed inaccurate or a traffic stop is shown to lack probable cause, the evidence against you can be deemed inadmissible resulting in your case being thrown out. While a dismissed DWI charge is not automatically scrubbed from your record, you are entitled to an expunction when your case is dismissed.

Appeal: Those who believe they have been wrongfully convicted of a DWI should always exhaust their legal rights and appeal the decision. Appeals are most commonly granted to individuals whose case was subject to a court error such as improper jury instructions or mislabeled evidence. An appeal can also be granted if new evidence or witness testimony has come to light. If an appellate court grants your appeal, your case may be retried or your conviction could be vacated. Those with a vacated conviction are eligible to apply for a records expunction.

Not Guilty: If your case goes to trial and you are acquitted you are entitled to an expunction. A not guilty verdict will still appear on a criminal record, which can lead to potentially awkward situations with employers and landlords. After a not guilty verdict, it’s important to stay in contact with your lawyer in order to petition for expungement as soon as your waiting period is up.

Understanding The Expungement Process:

Waiting Period: One of the first things those eligible for expunction will encounter is a waiting period. The waiting period for an expunction will vary depending on the charge and statute of limitations, with a DWI 2 requiring a wait of one year from the date of arrest.

Petition: Once the waiting period has elapsed, to initiate the expunction process a petition must be filed with the court that dealt with your case. A petition for expunction should be filled out with a lawyer and will include a copy of your criminal record and relevant personal information.

Hearing: After a petition is filed and submitted to the district attorney, an expunction hearing will be held. At an expunction hearing, a defendant and their attorney can present an argument for why their case should be expunged. If your case was vacated, while uncommon, prosecutors and those involved in the case may take an opportunity to argue against an expunction.

Ruling and Court Order: If a judge rules in your favor and your DWI 2 is expunged in Texas, you will be provided a court order. A court order must be provided to all agencies with a copy of your record. Within months you should be able to go about life as normal as agencies begin to destroy your records.