If you’ve been charged with a crime in Hays County, regardless of whether you’re found not guilty the Texas Freedom of Information Act considers criminal records public information that can be readily accessed. Given the sensitivity of the information contained in criminal records, it is almost always in an individual’s best interest to review their records and have them expunged or subjected to an Order of Nondisclosure. Here’s some more information on criminal records and the importance of hiring an attorney to assist in getting one’s record expunged in Hays County.
What to Know About Criminal Records and Expungement:
An individual’s criminal record details every aspect of their criminal history such as felony and misdemeanor arrests, traffic violations, indictments, convictions, parole and probation records, and appearances on state and national sex offender registries. While a variety of information is redacted on criminal records, certain inclusions can still be incredibly disparaging such as mugshots and detailed criminal allegations. Even the process of redacting is not 100 percent accurate, with faulty censorship sometimes leaking private information such as an individual’s social security number into a document. Unexpunged information contained in criminal records is often available through non-governmental background check websites and is known to be a major hindrance in applying for a job or lease.
In certain instances, an individual’s criminal record is eligible for expungement. When a record is expunged it is completely removed from public records, meaning that it will not appear in county record searches or background check websites. Expungements are limited to very specific cases, such as those that received a not guilty verdict, no conviction, a pardon, or an acquittal. Having a record expunged in Hays County is a complex, long, and arduous process, making it wise to double check your eligibility with an expungement attorney. Additionally, given the cost of hiring an expungement attorney and filing and processing documents, review your criminal records before filing for expungement to ensure it’s worth it.
Accessing Hays County Criminal Records:
Given the simplicity of accessing criminal records in the county, everyone interested in getting their record expunged in Hays County should first view their criminal records with an expungement lawyer.
The easiest way to do this is through the Hays County Courts Records Inquiry website, https://public.co.hays.tx.us/default.aspx. This site provides free access to the county’s criminal records which can be searched for by name, date of birth, or the date the case was filed.
Hays County Expungement Process:
Once you’ve looked over your criminal records with an expungement lawyer and determined the benefits of expungement, you can feel confident in beginning the expungement process. The first step in expungement is to petition the court where your charges are filed for an expungement. A Petition for Expungement should include some basic identifying information about the petitioner. Some information commonly included is an individual’s full name, date of birth, social security number, and arresting information such as the date and location of arrest, charges, case number, and arresting agency. Petitions should be done with the help of an expungement lawyer who can aid in formatting, identifying relevant information, and filing the petition with the presiding court.
Upon filing a Petition for Expungement, you will be granted an expungement hearing scheduled at least 30 days in the future. At this hearing, those involved in the case such as prosecutors and arresting officers can plead their case as to why expungement is not deserved. In clear cut cases where an individual is certain to be granted expungement, an expungement attorney can ease the process by having all involved parties sign an agreement to avoid a court hearing.
When granted expungement, a judge will sign an Expungement Order which can then be sent to the agencies housing your records mandating that they be destroyed. While your record is now legally expunged it is important to track down all third party websites to ensure that no private company is in breach of order. Make sure to frequently follow up and ensure that your records are being destroyed, as, while this process should be swift some government agencies can take six months to a year to clear your records.