Can a Felony Be Expunged?
How a Felony Conviction Can Impact Your Life
Nobody wants to find themselves in a situation where they have a criminal record, but the truth is that approximately 77 million Americans, or 1 in 3 adults, have one. For these individuals, one mistake can have ripple effects on their lives. A criminal conviction, specifically a felony, can make life more difficult in the following ways:
- Reduced employment opportunities
Around 89% of businesses perform background checks when screening for a job. The background check investigates a candidate’s background and can include past employment, education, criminal records, credit history, motor vehicle, and license record checks. For this reason, having a criminal record can have a significant impact on job prospects. In fact, in 2014, felony convictions resulted in job loss for at least 1.7 million workers.
- Potential travel limitations
Your ability to travel can also be impacted by a criminal conviction, and it might lead to having your passport revoked. In addition, you might not be approved for programs available through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other countries like TSA pre-check or Global Entry. If you are able to travel, the process can be a bit more difficult as well. You will have to go through the full security measures at the airport and you might be selected for further screening. This is not exactly the most glamorous way to kick off a summer vacation, or any trip for that matter.
- Difficulty obtaining a loan
Getting a loan is difficult enough as it is, and a felony conviction on the record can make it even more difficult to achieve. Although it is possible to qualify for a loan with a criminal record, it can hurt your chances of getting a loan that finances the needs of your life.
- Denial of admission to the college or university of your choice
If you have a criminal record, you might have difficulty gaining admission to the college or university of your choice. Sadly, studies have found that colleges are more likely to reject applicants who report felony convictions, even for minor felonies. While many schools will still accept a hopeful student with a criminal record, it can make matters more difficult, which closes some educational opportunities for these individuals.
- Potential to lose the right to vote
The state of Texas grants eligibility to vote once a felon completes their sentence, parole, or probation. Texas is a state that restores the right to vote automatically when an individual satisfies the requirements under section 4 of Texas’ election code. However, not all states are so forgiving. Twenty states do not allow those convicted of a felony to vote, including Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
- Difficulty finding approval for an apartment
Another situation in which a background check is standard is during the application process for an apartment. This is because landlords tend to prefer tenants with good credit and a clean record. Although landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants based on race or religion, felony convictions are not protected. If you do have a felony, there are steps you can take to alleviate a future landlord’s fears, like offering a sincere in-person explanation, proper documentation, and additional money upfront.
- Adoption troubles
If you were convicted of a felony, it does not necessarily mean that you will be unable to adopt. If you work with a social worker, they will be able to talk with you about your situation and walk you through your options. However, there are some agencies that will not approve a home in which a felon resides, which is important to keep in mind when dealing with this issue.
- Limitations on owning firearms
Under Texas state law, a convicted felon can possess a firearm in the residence five years after their discharged date. The restrictions on this particular rule vary from state to state, so this is another way in which having a criminal record can impact an individual’s life.
- Issues with insurance companies
Most insurance companies will ask about criminal convictions because they view those with felonies as being a potential risk. For this reason, having a felony can negatively affect your odds of obtaining insurance.
Getting Felonies and Crimes Expunged
Every state has a different list of crimes that can be expunged. In some states, only misdemeanors can be expunged, while in other states, felonies can be expunged with the exception of serious or violent crimes. In Texas, you might be able to get misdemeanor or felony records expunged if the felony charge was dropped or dismissed without action, if you went to trial and were acquitted of the offense, if you were convicted of the charge but found to be innocent by a court, or if you were pardoned of the offense. Every state’s laws are different, and meeting with lawyers who specialize in expunction like the ones on the team at The Clark Law Firm can help you understand your options.
There are certain disqualifications that will prevent you from getting a felony expunged. If you have more than one felony conviction, or a felony conviction and more than two disorderly persons conviction, these would be disqualifications. If you had a prior charge dismissed through a pre-trial intervention, you would also not be eligible for an expunction. There are also specific crimes that might bar you from receiving an expunction. For example, you can be disqualified from an expunction if your conviction is for the sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute a controlled or dangerous substance, with the exception of marijuana. Other felonies that are not eligible for expunction include criminal homicide, kidnapping, luring or enticing, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, arson, robbery, perjury, false swearing, and endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. There is some good news for those who have criminal records, which is that special circumstances allow an expunction to be granted. The process can be challenging to navigate without the help of an experienced attorney, which is exactly what you will find on our team. The Clark Law Firm brings more than 35 years of combined experience to the field of criminal law. If you were acquitted during trial, if the charges against you were dismissed, if you completed a pre-trial intervention program, or if you were pardoned, an expunction might be appropriate.
Find out more about expunctions of criminal records by calling our team at (817) 435-4970 or contacting us online.