Dealing with the aftermath of a criminal conviction can be overwhelming. Not only must you pay any fines and do the time required of you by the court, but you are also left to deal with the impact of your conviction for the remainder of your life. From finding a new job to applying for a place to live, to obtaining a professional license, it can serve as a massive hurdle. However, in some cases under Texas law, you are able to request that your criminal record be sealed or expunged. This means that in most cases the general public would be unable to see or access it.
Under Texas law, if a court orders that your criminal record is sealed (aka non-disclosed), it may no longer be released or used for any other reason. After your record has been legally expunged, the records are actually physically destroyed and you are allowed to deny that you have even been arrested. For these reasons, an expunction is far superior to a non-disclosure but an expunction is typically only available if your case is dismissed, or if you are acquitted at trial.
Orders of Nondisclosure
Some criminal records may be sealed by a court order of nondisclosure in Texas. When a criminal record is sealed, only criminal justice agencies will have access to it and are only allowed to disclose to you, other criminal justice agencies, or to certain licensing entities as expressed under Texas law.
Can Your Criminal Record Be Expunged in Texas?
There are various ways in which you may be eligible to have your criminal record expunged in Texas. If you were arrested for either a misdemeanor or a felony and you were:
- Acquitted at trial;
- Convicted before being pardoned or found innocent;
- Charged but the case was dismissed and the statute of limitations has expired; or
- Not officially charged with a crime and have satisfied the waiting period.
The Waiting Period
When you have been arrested but not charged with a crime, under Texas law you must wait a certain period of time before you may apply to have it expunged. The length of time involved in your waiting period is dependent upon the crime for which you have been arrested.
- Class C Misdemeanor – 180 days from the date of your arrest
- Class A or B Misdemeanor – one year from the date of your arrest
- Felony – three years from the date of your arrest
If you were charged, you must wait until the relevant statute of limitations expires. On the other hand, if you went to trial and were acquitted, then you are typically eligible for an expunction immediately.
If you are charged with more than one offense arising out of the same incident and one of those offenses is dismissed as a part of a plea deal, you are typically not eligible to have the dismissed case expunged.
Parents, grandparents, spouses, adult siblings, or adult children of a deceased individual may apply to have their relative’s criminal record expunged if he or she would have been eligible.
Do You Qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure?
You may be eligible to have your criminal record sealed under an order of nondisclosure if:
- The judge deferred proceedings without finding you guilty;
- The judge placed you under court supervision; and
- The judge dismissed the proceedings against you at the end of your period of supervision.
Most misdemeanor deferred adjudication probations are eligible to be sealed. Most misdemeanors do not have a waiting period. Several misdemeanors, can have a waiting period of 2 years after discharge from community supervision. Felonies can have a waiting period of 5 years after discharge from community supervision.
It is important to understand though that certain crimes are never eligible to be sealed under an order of disclosure. Such crimes include:
- Crimes for which you must register as a sex offender
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Human trafficking
- Child endangerment/abandonment
- Family violence offenses
Filing to Have Your Record Expunged or Sealed
If your record is eligible to be expunged or sealed, you must fill out a Petition for Expunction or Petition for an Order of Nondisclosure form before filing it with the court where your case was handled.
The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Desire to Have Their Criminal Record Sealed
If you have been convicted of a crime in Texas but desire to have your record sealed, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal law attorney.
At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the repercussions that a criminal conviction can have on your life. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!