Expungement for Unlawful Carry
Texans were finally granted the right to constitutionally carry on September 1st, 2021 thanks to the bill known as HB 1927. What this means is that Texan residents can now open or conceal carry a firearm anywhere as long as it’s not a prohibited area as indicated under the Texas Penal Code. The bill also allows Texans with an unlawful carry conviction to expunge their record completely as long as it occurred prior to September 1st, 2021.
Texans have been prohibited from expunging their record of unlawfully carrying a firearm or unlawfully carrying a handgun as a license holder since the 1970’s. It was found by the Texas District & County Attorney’s Association (TDCAA) that approximately 130,000 people have been convicted of unlawful carry since the year 1974.
Thankfully, these citizens can finally move on with their lives and expunge their records of all charges and/or conviction. That means employers, licensing agencies, peers, and even government agencies will no longer have access to the arrest, charges, or conviction related to unlawful carry. If you or someone you know has a unlawful carry conviction and wishes to pursue expunction, get in contact with Brian Benken of The Benken Law Firm.
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If you have a conviction for unlawful carry, then you already understand how difficult it is to live with a criminal record. It can be difficult to find employment or housing since potential employers and/or landlords tend to run background checks during the application process. The conviction could even stop you from pursuing a professional license if the licensing board deems the conviction as means for disqualification.
Thankfully, you can finally have a second chance at a clean record with the help of HB 1927. The new legislation allows Texans to expunge their record as long as the unlawful carry conviction occurred before September 1st, 2021. To learn more, call the experienced legal team at The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken has years of experience helping his clients obtain expunction or an order of non-disclosure by utilizing his in-depth understanding of the law and extensive resources.
Call The Benken Law Firm today to set up your first consultation with weapons crimes defense Brian Benken at (713) 223 - 4051. The Benken Law Firm has offices in Houston but accepts clients in other communities including West University Place, The Heights, Bellaire, and Downtown Houston, and throughout all parts of Texas.
- Expunging Unlawful Carry Convictions Under Texas Law
- Steps to Expunge Unlawful Carry in Texas
- Difference Between Expungement and Record Sealing
- Steps to Seal Unlawful Carry in Texas
- Additional Resources
Expunging Unlawful Carry Convictions in Texas
It was decided in the 1970’s by Texas legislators that those convicted of unlawfully carrying a firearm or unlawful carry of a handgun by a license holder will be prohibited from expungement. The decision was made in hopes gun violence would decrease and offenders would be less likely to own firearms. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. What the legislation did instead was leave over a hundred thousand productive people with a permanent criminal record and no way to erase it.
However, a new bill known as HB 1927 or the “Permitless Carry Bill” has changed these laws, giving unlawful carry offenders a chance at a clean record. The newly passed bill states you can expunge your record if you were convicted of an offense under Section 46.02 of the Penal Code as long as the crime occurred before September 1st, 2021.
Since unlawful carry is a nonviolent crime, the majority of people convicted of the crime were first-time offenders who simply made a mistake. For years, the state punished those hard-working citizens by not giving them any options for erasure. These citizens likely had issues finding employment, housing, applying for a professional license, and simply navigating their life simply because they made a mistake once years ago. Now, these people will have a second chance thanks to HB 197 allowing them to expunge their records completely.
Steps to Expunge an Unlawful Carry Conviction in Texas
The expunction process is pretty straight forward, and it’s an administrative process not a criminal one. That means you’ll be referred to as the petitioner since you must fill out the petition for expunction. Once you fill out the petition, you’ll be required to file it at the appropriate court that had jurisdiction over your original unlawful carry charges. The expunction must be filed at the court where you were convicted, if it’s filed anywhere else it will be considered void.
The court will inform the respondent of the expunction request. The respondent is the other party to the expungement and can challenge it if they wish. Usually, the respondent is either the law enforcement officer that arrested you or the county attorney that convicted you.
At the hearing, you must have all necessary documents required including identifying information for the crime such as arrest records and proof of conviction. The respondent will be given ample opportunity (30 days) by the court to appeal the expunction. If they choose to appeal, then a hearing will commence where both parties can present their arguments.
Since the respondent can appeal the decision, it’s important you have a criminal defense attorney on your side. A skilled and experienced expunction lawyer can assess if you qualify for expungement and present arguments as to why the order should be granted.
Differences Between Expungement and Record Sealing
The terms “expungement” and “record sealing” may be commonly interchanged on episodes of Law & Order, but in reality, expunging and sealing your record are two separate legal processes. The decision to expunge or seal your record will depend on the circumstances of your prior arrest, charge, or conviction.
Expunging your record will mean no one will access it in any capacity. The records themselves will be destroyed by the court, so not even government agencies can find them. Obviously, expungement is the most comprehensive form of erasure. However, it’s the hardest to qualify for. The eligibility criteria for expungement are incredibly stringent and in most cases, you won’t be able to expunge a criminal conviction.
If you seal your record, then your arrest, charge, and/or conviction will be erased, but not completely. Some licensing agencies and government agencies will be able to access your record including the Texas Medical Board and Education Agency. While sealing your record doesn’t completely erase it, it’s much easier to qualify for an order of non-disclosure than an order for expunction.
Steps to Seal Unlawful Carry in Texas
If you don’t qualify for expungement, you may be able to pursue an order of non-disclosure for your unlawful carry charge or arrest. You must first understand the eligibility requirements set forth by the Texas Government Code before you attempt to fill out a petition. According to the Government Code Section 411.0753, you can file an order of non-disclosure if:
- You were put on deferred adjudication
- You completed the program
- You waited the appropriate time to file an order of nondisclosure
- You have not been convicted of any crimes since the deferred adjudication and filing the order of non-disclosure
You may have to wait to file an order of non-disclosure if you were charged with a felony offense. If that’s the case, then you must wait five years to file an order of non-disclosure. If the charges were for a misdemeanor, there is no waiting period.
HB 1927 Explained– Visit the official website for the Gun Owner Association (GOA) of Texas to learn more about the contents of HB 1927, also known as the Permitless Carry Bill. Access the site to see the authors of the bill, the steps the bill went through in House and the Senate, new amendments to the bill, what is defined as prohibited carry in Texas, and more.
Unlawful Carry and Other Firearm Offenses– Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to read up on their laws and rules related to unlawful carry. Access the site to read the new elements for unlawful carry, penalties, possible penalty enhancements, areas where you’re prohibited from carrying, and other related offenses.
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Do you or someone you know have a prior conviction for unlawful carry? If so, then it’s within your best interest to call The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken of The Benken Law Firm has assisted clients obtain an order of expunction since 1991. He understands the ins and outs of the process as well as the new constitutional carry laws in Texas. With his help and extensive resources, criminal defense attorney Benken can guide you to a clean record and a better and brighter future.
Call The Benken Law Firm today at (713) 223 - 4051 to set up your first consultation with Brian Benken. He has offices in Houston, but accepts clients throughout all regions of Texas.