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In 2010, I was arrested and charged with felony evading arrest/detention with a motor vehicle. This is a state jail felony in Texas. The charge was later reduced from a state jail felony to a Class A misdemeanor. I was convicted and served 90 days in county jail with no probation afterwards.

I am worried that even though I don't have a felony on my record, having a Class A misdemeanor could potentially make finding a job more difficult. I took an online quiz that said I was eligible for "background check removal." Is this the same thing as having it expunged? And if not, is it possible to have this conviction expunged from my record?

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    "Background check removal" sounds like a scam that does not clear your record. I do not know how a criminal record is sealed or expunged in Texas, however, and will leave that to someone else.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 29, 2016 at 10:03

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Expunction may be possible for instance if you are acquitted, later proven innocent, pardoned, and various other things that fall short of being convicted and doing the time. The entire law is here (Texas code of criminal procedure 55.01).

There is also the option of an order of non-disclosure, overviewed here. A requirement for such an order is that you were placed on and completed deferred adjudication community supervision, which from what I can tell is not what happened.

"Background check removal" may range between simply taking your money and doing nothing, to doing what you could do yourself to get free of traces via radaris, intelius, spokeo, and so on to "request removal" from that web site. This will not make your record unavailable, because these websites don't have any special powers to reach into and manipulate state records.

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Only a person who was arrested may obtain expunction of his records, because an arrest is a threshold requirement under the expunction statute.  Ex parte S.C. (App. 14 Dist. 2009) 305 S.W.3d 258. Here, Petitioner was arrested on July 9, 1997. The next criteria Petitioner must meet is to demonstrate the charge was dismissed. In T.C.R. v. Bell County District Attorney’s Office, 305 S.W.3d 661, “as a matter of first impression, a person charged with a felony offense is eligible for expunction, subject to other requirements, where the charging instrument has been dismissed or quashed, and the limitations period for the offense has expired.”

What is nice in Texas is that if the court grants the petition, it will issue a very broad order directing every agency who arrested or otherwise had access to your records to seal them.

The expunction statute extends to “all records and files relating to the arrest” of the petitioner if the criminal case as required. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 55.01(a); Texas Educ. Agency v. T.F.G., 295 S.W.3d 398, 401 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2009, no pet.) (only documents and records pertaining to acquittee's criminal investigation, arrest, and prosecution on charge of indecency with a child were documents “relating to the arrest,” so as to be subject to the statute authorizing expunction of criminal records and, thus, any documents resulting from Texas Education Agency's internal investigation concerning acquittee's educator certification were not subject to expunction except for references in such documents based on acquittee's criminal investigation and subsequent arrest).

I strongly suggest that you contact your local public defender and ask about post conviction relief petitions to seal your records. Keep in mind, juvenile records are not sealed from law enforcement view when you turn 18, you must petition the court to do that so your past doesn't come back to haunt you as an adult or add to your points if you're in front of a judge who sees you were catching cases at 12.

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I wanted to add to my preceding post concerning background checks and expunged or sealed records. Data brokers are great when collecting records from the courts, but rarely go back to determine if a case was dismissed, reversed on appeal, expunged and/or sealed. I mentioned expunged and/or sealed since various states may expunge a conviction, but such does not seal the record.

Nonetheless, if you obtained a Texas expunction order, it is imperative to follow up with data brokers notifying them the case is now sealed and want written confirmation the record has been removed from your report. Employment background companies are under more stringent restraints when reporting information. Put simply, companies who provide background check information to landlords, prospective employers, etc. must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

As such, I would recommend to include in your letter to not only request the sealed record is removed from your report, but also for a complete copy of your credit file. You are allowed one free copy of your report each year.

Several lawsuits concerning reporting expunged/sealed records have been filed against databrokers. See Giddiens v. LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Inc., No. 12-cv-2624 (E.D. Pa.) (settled for at least $1,000 per class member, with the option to make a claim for more); Robinson v. General Info. Srvcs., Inc., No. 11-cv-7782 (E.D. Pa.) (settled for approximately $1,500 per class member).

In fact, just yesterday a class action was settled where expunged or sealed records were being reported. See Damarcus Stewart v. Accurate Background LLC, et al., Case No. 5:22-cv-01926-EJD, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

With the above in mind, I hope all is well, Darren Chaker

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