Expungements and Nondisclosures in Texas

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If you are charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony in Texas, you face time behind bars, high fines, and serious social consequences that can affect your ability to get a job, rent a home, further your education, and beyond.

There are certain circumstances when charges can be expunged, or an order of nondisclosure can apply to a conviction, which can help lighten the immense burden of a criminal record. If you have questions or concerns about expungement or nondisclosure, reach out for the skilled legal guidance of an experienced Round Rock criminal defense lawyer today.

Your Criminal Record Is a Matter of Public Record

It’s important to understand that a criminal record, including a criminal charge against you, is a matter of public record. Because others can – and often do – look up this information and see the blight on your record, your social standing can take a direct hit. Consider all the following potential consequences of a criminal record and the impact they can have on your future:

  • Your current employer could fire you in response to a criminal charge, and potential future employers may not be interested in hiring you.

  • If you’re trying to rent an apartment or house, the fact of a criminal record can leave you with few options. It can also affect your ability to obtain a home loan.

  • You may not be able to get a federal student loan, to live on campus, or to gain acceptance to the college of your choice, which can directly affect your career goals.

A criminal record can make achieving the future you’ve imagined for yourself far more difficult. Discussing your best options in relation to either expungement or nondisclosure with a seasoned criminal defense attorney is an excellent plan.

Expungements

Expungement – or expunction – refers to the permanent removal of all information regarding a specific charge, arrest, or conviction from one’s record, and it allows the person to deny that the incident ever happened. In other words, an expungement is a complete do-over.

The rules and restrictions regarding expungement are highly specific, and no one who is convicted of a crime – absent acquittal on appeal or a pardon – or who accepts community supervision for any offense other than a Class C misdemeanor is eligible for expungement.

Those Records That Are Eligible for Expungement

Those instances when an expungement is a possibility include:

  • If you were arrested for a crime but were never charged

  • If the matter in question was a qualifying misdemeanor juvenile offense

  • If you faced a criminal charge that was ultimately dismissed

  • If you were a minor and it was a specific kind of alcohol-related offense

  • If you were charged but were acquitted of the charge on appeal

  • If you were convicted but later found innocent

  • If you were charged but never tried, and the prosecutor for your case approves expungement

  • If you were pardoned for the charge in question

While the above does not guarantee that the associated record can or will be expunged, it is possible.

Expungement after Acquittal

If you were arrested for a crime that the trial court acquitted you of, you’re entitled to have all related records expunged unless there are related criminal episodes for which you remain subject to prosecution.

This refers to instances when multiple crimes were committed in conjunction with one another or to situations that involved the repeated commission of the same offense or similar offenses.

Expungement after Acquittal on Appeal or a Pardon

If you were charged with a crime, convicted, and subsequently acquitted on appeal or pardoned, the related criminal record can be expunged – if the acquittal or pardon was specifically based on your innocence. An expungement won't be granted if you remain subject to prosecution for a concurrent offense.

Expungement When a Case Isn’t Filed

If you are arrested but not charged with a crime, you can file for expungement prior to the statute of limitations closing for the crime in question, but you must apply within the legal timeframe for expungement, which includes the following parameters:

  • You must wait at least 190 days from the time of arrest for a Class C misdemeanor charge

  • You must wait at least 1 year from the time of arrest for a Class A or Class B misdemeanor charge

  • You must wait at least 3 years from the time of arrest for a felony charge

Expungement When It’s Recommended by the Prosecuting Attorney

If the prosecuting attorney recommends that the matter be expunged from your record before you are tried for the offense in question, you are eligible for an expungement, but the matter remains within the court’s discretion. This means that the judge handling the Petition for Expunction can deny the prosecutor’s recommendation.

Expungement for Specific Juvenile Offenses

In many cases, juvenile convictions for charges like the following can be expunged:

  • A misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine

  • An offense committed under the Alcoholic Beverage Code

  • A conviction for failure to attend school

Like adults, juveniles must follow specific rules and regulations in order to have their records expunged. For example, juveniles must wait until they reach a certain age before they can apply for an expungement, and they can’t have more than one conviction on their record.

Expungement after Death by a Close Relative

A close relative of someone who would have been entitled to an expungement had they lived can seek an expungement for them posthumously.

The Expungement Process

The steps in the filing process for expungement begin with filing the Petition for Expunction, which requests that an Order for Expunction be granted. As the person applying for the expunction, you are the petitioner, and you’ll need to include all the following information:

  • Your identifying information

  • The offense in question

  • The date of the arrest

  • The date of the alleged offense

  • The name of the arresting agency

  • A list of each agency that may have a record of the arrest

If you were charged with the crime, you’ll also need to include the following:

  • Your case’s cause number

  • The name of the court

  • How the charge was resolved – whether it was dismissed, no billed by the grand jury, or acquitted

  • The date the charge was resolved

The petition needs to be notarized upon signature and should include a Notice of Hearing to schedule the hearing date. At the hearing, respondents are given the opportunity to contest the expungement – as applicable. If you meet all the requirements, however, the court will likely proceed with granting your expungement, and the matter will be erased from your record.

Expungement is not common, and the legal process is exacting. If you believe you may be entitled to an expungement or want to explore your options, consult with a trusted criminal defense attorney today.

Nondisclosure Orders

If you’re not eligible for expungement, which isn’t uncommon, a nondisclosure order may be a possibility. While such an order doesn’t nullify the entire record associated with an offense, it does limit who has access to the records, which can limit the social consequences you face. Those records that nondisclosure orders apply to can’t be accessed by most private parties.

Government agencies, however, can access records to which nondisclosure orders apply, and the records are admissible in some court actions. Nondisclosure orders apply only to charges that are resolved via deferred adjudication, which is a form of probation.

Requirements

If you received deferred adjudication, successfully completed the terms, and received a discharge and dismissal of your deferred adjudication, you have the right to apply for a nondisclosure order. Another requirement that applies to nondisclosure orders is that you can’t apply until the statutory waiting period – if there is one for the specific crime – has elapsed.

This waiting period can span up to 10 years and is based on the severity of the charge in question.

The Nondisclosure Order Process

The nondisclosure order process is very close to the process for obtaining an expungement. You’ll begin by filing a petition with the court that originally heard your case. After appropriate notice is given to the involved parties, there will be a hearing to determine if an Order for Nondisclosure will be granted.

When it comes to these orders, the court typically has more discretion than they do for expungements. If the judge determines that granting the order serves justice, they will do so.

Waiting Periods for Filing a Nondisclosure Order

There are specific waiting periods that must elapse before you can apply for nondisclosure, including:

  • You must wait at least 5 years if the crime in question is a felony.

  • You must wait at least 2 years if the crime in question is gambling, unlawful restraint, a sexual offense, an assaultive offense, a domestic violence offense, a weapons offense, disorderly conduct, human trafficking, kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping, or smuggling of persons.

If the underlying charge is a misdemeanor, there is no waiting period involved.

It’s important to remember, however, that only a charge that led to deferred adjudication is eligible for a nondisclosure order, and many of those listed above tend to carry prison sentences – rather than probation.

Exceptions to the Rule

While charges that result in deferred adjudication are generally eligible for consideration when it comes to nondisclosure orders, certain charges are not, including all the following:

  • Domestic violence or repeat violations of bond conditions related to a domestic violence case

  • Sexual assault

  • Aggravated kidnapping with intent to commit sexual abuse

  • Indecency with a child

  • incest

  • the compelling of prostitution

  • Unlawful restraint, kidnapping, or aggravated kidnapping of someone under the age of 17

  • Abandonment or endangerment of a child

  • Stalking

  • Violation a protective order

  • Injury to a child or elderly person

  • Online solicitation of a minor

  • Any crime that leads to registration as a sex offender

FAQ

The answers to questions that clients ask most frequently about expungement and nondisclosure may help you with your own questions.

Can I expunge my record myself in Texas?

The expungement process is legally complex, and it is always in your best interest to have a practiced criminal defense attorney in your corner.

Is every charge expungable?

No, not every charge can be expunged from a criminal record. In fact, the rules are strict, and the process is demanding. The kind of information that can be expunged from your record includes things like an arrest that didn’t lead to a charge, a charge that was dropped, an acquittal at trial, an acquittal on appeal, or a charge that was pardoned.

What’s the difference between expungement and nondisclosure?

When something is expunged from your record, it is permanently erased and is no longer accessible information. Nondisclosure, on the other hand, removes the information for the purposes of most public searches but doesn’t for most governmental intentions.

Nondisclosure applies only to charges that were resolved through deferred adjudication, and whether or not the nondisclosure order is granted is left to the court’s discretion in relation to the service of justice.

Can any charge that receives deferred adjudication be granted nondisclosure?

No, there are certain charges that are not eligible for nondisclosure. These include charges related to family violence, charges related to harming children, and offenses that lead to registration as a sex offender.

Speak with an Experienced Round Rock Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Round Rock, Texas, is an accomplished criminal defense attorney who encourages you to reach out and explore your best options in relation to expungement or nondisclosure.

The sooner you have a focused attorney on your side, the better protected your rights will be. For more information, please don’t wait to contact or call us at 254-781-4222 and schedule your free consultation today.

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