In Harris County it will more than likely require you to hire a criminal defense attorney to expunge your record. Call around, some charge as low as $500.00 plus court cost. Court cost in Harris County is approximately $300.00. You would have to draft a petition in accordance with chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, include all the relevant agencies, file the petition with the Harris County District Clerk, obtain a hearing date, wait for responses from all of the agencies, and then possibly have to attend a hearing in the District Court. My firm provides this service in Harris County at a reasonable price. Call around to get the best price.
Legal disclaimer: My answers are only intended as general legal advice based on my experience. They are not intended to be a binding legal opinion nor to create an attorney-client relationship.
The prudent thing to do is hire a Lawyer to file a Petition for expungement. The petition is a document under oath identifying yourself and the alleged crime and dismissal that occurred. There will be a filing fee and various police agencies will have top be notified such as HPD, DPS, HCSO, the District Clerk etc. It is best to hire an attorney that is familiar with the process so that the process can occur smoothly.
Typically, you will not become eligible for a "full" expunction until the statute of limitations (SOL) expires. The qualified criminal defense lawyer you hire will be able to explain this technicality. If the prosecution agrees to the expunction, then probably much sooner. A "partial" expunction can be requested prior to the SOL expiring. Again, your lawyer can answer these important questions for you. Good luck.
If your dismissal shows that you were the wrong person and not just insufficient evidence, you can get your expunction now. If it does show insufficient evidence you may have to wait until the SOL has run. Most experienced attorneys are charging $1,500 to $2,500 for an expunction. If they are not done properly, then they are not worth the paper they are written on. I do not do Harris County cases but there are many very good attorneys out there that do.
You should speak with an attorney familiar with the Texas expunction statute. If not done property, then you will end up spending more money in the long run. As others have stated, you generally must wait for the statute of limitations to expire (two years for misdemeanor theft) before your eligible for expunction. If your case was dismissed for lack of probable cause or if the prosecutor agrees, then you would likely be entitled to immediate expunction.
In Harris County you will be entitled to an immediate expunction if this is a misdemeanor case (absent exceptional circumstances). You can absolutely do it yourself and there are forms online. It is a difficult process and you may not know enough to get it done correctly, so I advise that you hire an attorney to assist you. There are very affordable attorneys who can help with this type of expunction. That said, if you want to proceed on your own, you can and Harris County does make it easier than most counties.
Carmen M. Roe
Attorney at Law