In Texas, a criminal conviction stays on your criminal record forever. A criminal conviction can negatively impact your ability to gain admission to college or graduate programs, secure employment, acquire professional licenses, rent an apartment, apply for loans, and vote. For these reasons and others, you may wish to have your criminal record sealed or “expunged.” Fortunately, depending on the type of offense you committed and whether you were subsequently convicted of the offense, you may be eligible to either seal or expunge your criminal record.
What is an Expunction?
An expunction essentially destroys all the records and files stemming from an arrest, including any documents related to the arrest, the district attorney’s file, the charged instrument, and any trial transcripts. In addition, state agencies are not permitted to provide any information related to the expunged arrest to private companies that gather criminal data for private background checks. Moreover, a person who has been granted an expunction may deny the occurrence of the arrest and the existence of the expunction order.
Who is Eligible for an Expunction?
While obtaining an expunction can be extremely complicated in some instances, an expunction is generally available to anyone who has been:
- wrongfully accused of a crime;
- charged with a crime and later acquitted at trial; or
- charged with a crime, and the charge was later dismissed.
What is an Order of Non-Disclosure?
In Texas, if you are not eligible to receive an expunction, you may still be able to petition the court and receive an order of non-disclosure. Unlike an expunction where an arrest record is completely destroyed, an order of non-disclosure simply limits the State’s ability to provide information contained in your arrest record to the general public. An order of non-disclosure allows a person to withhold information that he or she was involved in a criminal proceeding when seeking employment, applying to college or graduate programs, and more.
Who is Eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure?
While the Texas non-disclosure statute contains many restrictions and exceptions, an order of non-disclosure is generally available to anyone who has plead guilty or no contest to a criminal offense, been placed on deferred adjudication community supervision, and successfully received a discharge and dismissal of the charge.
Typically, a person charged with a misdemeanor may be eligible to petition the court for an order of non-disclosure either immediately after receiving a discharge or dismissal or 2 years after receiving a discharge and dismissal depending upon what offense he or she was initially charged with. A person charged with a felony may be eligible to petition the court for a non-disclosure order after 5 years after receiving a discharge and dismissal.
As noted above, a person charged with certain offenses such as murder, sexual assault, and family violence offenses are not eligible to file a petition for non-disclosure. Please contact The Law Office of Mark O’Bryan to learn more and determine whether or not you may be eligible for an expunction or non-disclosure order.