Even if a prostitution case is eventually dismissed, an arrest can leave a terrible stain on a person’s record. Many people believe that if a prostitution case is dismissed, or if a person is found “not guilty” at trial, then the case is automatically deleted from a person’s record and criminal history. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you are arrested for prostitution and your case is dismissed, or you are found “not guilty” at trial, you must get your records expunged to totally clear your name. Until a prostitution arrest is expunged, a record of the arrest will still exist. If you are eligible, obtaining an expunction of a prostitution arrest is the best way to put the incident behind you as an expunction results in the destruction of records relating to the arrest and allows you to even deny the existence of the arrest for most purposes.
Am I eligible for an expunction of my prostitution case?
The first step to obtaining an expunction of a prostitution case is verifying your eligibility. In order to obtain an expunction of a prostitution case, typically your case will have to have been dismissed, or you will have to have been found “not guilty” at trial (there are other situations that would entitle a person to an expunction under Texas law, but they are rarely applicable in prostitution cases).
When am I not eligible for an expunction of a prostitution case?
As noted, in order to be eligible for an expunction of a prostitution case, your case must usually have resulted in a dismissal or acquittal (verdict of “not guilty” at trial). You are NOT eligible for an expunction of a prostitution arrest if any of the following is true:
-You pled guilty to the offense of prostitution, regardless of the sentence
-You were convicted of prostitution
-You were placed on deferred adjudication probation or regular probation for prostitution
-You were sentenced to jail or “time served” for the offense of prostitution
Unfortunately, if any of the above is true, you are not eligible for an expunction of a prostitution case and will never be under current Texas law (although you could be eligible for a non-disclosure if you successfully completed a deferred adjudication probation). Of course, if you are unsure about whether or not you quality, it is always a good idea to speak with an experienced expunction attorney.
What is the waiting period for an expunction of a prostitution case?
After verifying your eligibility for an expunction of a prostitution arrest, an expunction attorney will need to check on the applicable waiting period. If you were acquitted at trial, you are eligible for an expunction immediately. However, if your case was dismissed, then there could be a waiting period before obtaining an expunction (although as noted below, the District Attorney will frequently waive the waiting period in prostitution cases). In Texas, the waiting period for an expunction after a dismissal is typically based on the statute of limitations (the time that the State of Texas has to file a particular case). The statute of limitations varies depending on whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony and the type of felony.
In Texas, prostitution can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on whether it is alleged that the defendant is the alleged buyer or seller of sex, and the criminal history of the defendant (prior convictions for prostitution can elevate a prostitution charge from a misdemeanor to a felony under certain circumstances). For misdemeanors, the waiting period for an expunction is two years from the date of the arrest. For felony prostitution cases, the waiting period is 3 years (unless the charge is compelling prostitution, which carries a longer waiting period).
For many prostitution cases, the District Attorney may agree to waive the waiting period for an expunction. In these cases, an expunction can be filed before the waiting period has elapsed. In order to find out if you can obtain an expunction before the waiting period, an expunction attorney can contact the division of the District Attorney that handles expunctions and find out whether they would oppose an early expunction. In many cases, the District Attorney does not object to an early expunction.
What is the procedure for an expunction of a prostitution case?
When a person is arrested for prostitution, a record of the arrest is created with any law enforcement agency that was involved, as well as the clerk’s office and District Attorney’s office. Once an expunction attorney verifies your eligibility and the applicable waiting period, he will prepare an order listing every agency that has a record of the arrest. Once the order is prepared a judge will order any agency with a record of the arrest to destroy the records. The expunction attorney must then circulate the order to any agency that has a record of the arrest, putting them on notice that records relating to the prostitution arrest must be destroyed.
It can take several months from the time the expunction petition is filed to the time the judge signs the final order. Additionally, once the judge signs the final order, the agencies that are listed have up to a year to destroy the records (fortunately in Houston, an expunction in a prostitution case typically takes less time). An expunction in a prostitution case can be slow, but it is worth the wait, as records relating to the arrest will be physically destroyed and once the expunction is complete, a person will be able to deny the existence of the arrest on a job or housing application.
How do I obtain an expunction of a prostitution case after I complete the P180 program?
If you have been charged with misdemeanor prostitution in Houston and completed the Harris County District Attorney’s Office P180 program, you are entitled to apply for an expunction immediately under the current contract that is in effect.
Successfully expunging a prostitution arrest is a critical step to putting the incident behind you. In order to be effective, an expunction of a prostitution arrest must be done carefully and accurately so it is critical to hire an experienced expunction attorney. Ceja Law Firm regularly helps clients throughout the Greater Houston area expunge criminal cases of all types, including prostitution cases. If you are interested in applying for an expunction of a prostitution arrest, or any other type of criminal case, call Ceja Law Firm today for a free consultation.