Expunging Unlawful Carry Of A Weapon
HB 1927 made it possible for many defendants convicted of unlawful weapon carry in Texas to be eligible for expunction. This applies to convictions that occurred before September 1, 2021. There are more than 130,000 convictions in Texas that could be expunged by this law. It applies to convictions for the unlawful carrying of weapons under Texas Penal Code § 46.02.
Texas Expunging Unlawful Carry of a Weapon Lawyer
Fortunately, there are options for individuals who have been convicted of crimes. Under certain circumstances, offenders can have their criminal record sealed or expunged. If you are seeking to have your record sealed or expunged after acquiring an unlawful carry of a weapon conviction, contact Texas criminal defense lawyer Matthew Horak at Horak Law today.
He can explain your legal options in detail. Call our office at (713) 225-8000 today to schedule your first consultation. Horak Law has offices in The Woodlands and Houston, TX.
- Constitutional Carry
- The Expunction Process
- The Expunction Hearing
- Seal Versus Expunge
- Additional Resources
Many are familiar with terms like “concealed carry” and “open carry,” but HB 1927 made “constitutional carry” the law of the land in Texas. Anyone who meets the standard constitutional requirements to possess a firearm can open or concealed carry a weapon in Texas without an LTC. HB 1927 only applies to people aged twenty-one and older. The person must also not have an active protective order against them, such as a restraining order or an injunction against harassment. There is also an exception, making those convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors in the past five years ineligible for constitutional carry. Most of the misdemeanors ineligible for constitutional carry involve endangering others, such as terroristic threats and disorderly conduct with firearms.
The Expunction Process
There is a specific process for clearing, or expunging, criminal convictions, also known as the expunction process. The first step to expunging criminal carry charges in Texas is looking at the convictions’ orders. Did the conviction occur before September 1, 2021? If not, an expunction through HB 1927 won’t be possible, although that isn’t to say that the defendant should give up on the expunction process entirely. It’s also important to note the courthouse from which the conviction came. A petition for expunction must be filed in the same district that issued the conviction. While it might be more convenient to expunge records through a courthouse closer to your current home, it must be through the original district. They will have records for your previous conviction that a different district wouldn’t.
Expunctions are technically a civil legal matter rather than a criminal law matter. Rather than being a defendant, a person seeking to expunge a criminal conviction will be referred to as the “petitioner.” When the filing party is referred to as the petitioner, the opposing party is referred to as the “respondent.” The respondent here is usually a law enforcement agency or county attorney. After the petition has been filed, the court will review the petition and set a hearing date. The petitioner should arrive at this hearing on time and prepared. Retaining an attorney for this hearing isn’t mandatory, but it is highly beneficial.
The Expunction Hearing
While a compelling petition benefits the expunction process, the hearing’s outcome will be the most crucial part of the process. The petitioner must bring several documents as evidence to be used at this hearing. The petitioner should bring proper government-issued identification for court verification purposes. The petitioner should also bring records of their arrest and proof of conviction. The proof of conviction must include the date, showing that it occurred before September 1, 2021.
The respondent may or may not oppose the expunction. The respondent will be given thirty days’ notice of the expunction hearing. Some respondents may not care to respond, whether because the petitioner qualifies for expunction through HB 1927 or for another reason. Others may choose to attend the hearing and argue why the petitioner should not be granted an expunction. Under these circumstances, the petitioner will need clear and convincing arguments against all of the respondent’s reasons for why the expunction shouldn’t proceed. An experienced attorney can help ensure the petitioner’s perspective is represented well.
At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant or deny the petition for expunction. Having the petition granted is always the goal, but it doesn’t happen in every case. If a petition for expunction is denied, the petitioner can still appeal the decision. Once an expunction is successfully granted, the petitioner’s arrest records and all other files and documents relating to the conviction will be destroyed. The arrest and conviction will no longer appear on employment and licensing agencies’ background checks.
Seal Versus Expunge
Defendants convicted of criminal charges in Texas may either file to seal or expunge their criminal records. These processes are similar but not identical. Some may not be eligible for expunction but still have the option to seal their criminal records. Sealing criminal records isn’t as thorough as expunction, but still better than doing nothing about a criminal conviction.
When a criminal conviction is expunged, all evidence of the conviction is essentially obliterated. Public and private entities will no longer be able to access any arrest or conviction records. Potential employers, colleges and other higher education institutions, and licensing agencies will all be unable to find conviction evidence in background checks. Anyone who has expunged a criminal conviction in Texas can legally deny that the arrest or conviction ever occurred. The same can’t be said when criminal convictions are sealed.
To seal a criminal conviction, the defendant must file an order of nondisclosure in the district where the conviction occurred. The court will rule on whether or not to seal the defendant’s record. If the record is sealed, most public and private entities can no longer access evidence of the arrest or conviction. However, licensing agencies will still be able to access these arrest and conviction records. This can impact the defendant’s opportunities in certain career fields, such as education and medicine. Therefore, it is preferable to have criminal records expunged rather than sealed whenever possible.
HB 1927 – Changes to Texas’s firearm carry laws allow some defendants to expunge a conviction in Texas.
Texas Penal Code § 46.02 – Unlawful carrying weapons statute for Texas. One of the convictions that can be expunged thanks to the passage of HB 1927.
Houston Expunging Unlawful Carry of a Weapon Lawyer | Harris County, TX
If you desire expunge your record, contact Horak Law for assistance. Matthew Horak is a dedicated criminal defense attorney who has has the knowledge and resources necessary to prepare you for a record sealing or expunction hearing. Aside from steep fines and imprisonment, a conviction on a criminal record can follow you for life, which could seriously impact you ability to gain employment or receive a quality education.
Do not tackle this legal challenge alone. Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to schedule your first consultation. Horak Law has offices in Houston and The Woodlands, but we accept clients throughout the State of Texas including Harris County, Fort Bend County, Liberty County, Waller County, Galveston County, Montgomery County, and Brazoria County.