Q: I was in a dispute with my bf and I defended myself and got a violence charge. I still haven't been to court for this.
What can I do to get this off my record? And if I waited a long time already does that mean they can just drop the case?
A separate legal process called an EXPUNCTION is required to get the records of your arrest and prosecution off your criminal history background report. However, most people who are arrested will never be eligible for an expunction. There are several ways to become eligible but by far the most common requires two that (1) the prosecutor dismisses ALL charges related to the arrest and that (2) further prosecution is barred by limitations. The limitations period is 2 years for most Assault cases but the clock does not count down while the formal charges are pending. For misdemeanor arrests, it is possible to pursue expunction under a different set of qualifications if formal charges are not filed within one year of the arrest.
Under most circumstances, only the prosecutor can dismiss the case. However, if the prosecutor never files the formal charges then eventually the limitations period will expire and prosecution will be barred by law.
Texas has a great self defense law but there are very specific rules about when you can use it as a legal justification for the use of force. You should have a private conversation with your criminal defense attorney where you explain exactly what happened and why it was immediately necessary for you to use force in self defense. Your attorney need to know that your goal is an Expunction Eligible Result... and that a resolution like "time served" or "probation" or "deferred adjudication" is not acceptable because then the whole thing will be stuck on your record permanently. Since the case involves family or dating violence, the records can't be sealed upon successful completion of deferred adjudication... not all attorneys know that and some assume it can be sealed as long as there is no affirmative finding... even though the plain text of the law says otherwise. Good luck!
A: Criminal charges can take a while to get filed by the arresting agency. Once a charge is filed, then the district attorney's office picks it up. Then the case is assigned a court. Then you make appearances. Depending on what county you live in, you may be able to monitor the file on the county's website. If the charge is not assigned to a court, you will need an attorney to interact with the district attorney's office to check on the file's status. If the DA is choosing not to puruse it, then you can proceed with an expunction.
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