Clearing Criminal Records in Texas
Mistakes are a natural occurrence in life. When missteps are met by legal consequences, the offender receives the opportunity to right their blunders through serving jail time, paying fines, or participating in community service. After repaying your societal debt, however, these charges continue to leave a mark on your record. Luckily, there are ways to minimize the lingering of these charges through expungement and sealing of records, also known as nondisclosure.
Expunction offers the greatest chance at erasing a charge from your criminal record, though it holds strict requirements to be considered eligible. Expunction can effectively erase all relevant arrest, court, and criminal history records for Class C misdemeanors that resulted in deferred adjudication or charges of any severity that did not result in a conviction. To elaborate, expungable misdemeanor and felony charges include:
- Crimes you were acquitted of
- Convictions in which you were later found to be innocent
- Convictions in which you were later pardoned
- Crimes charged by indictment or information when the case was eventually dismissed, and the statute of limitations expired
- Crimes you were not convicted of, after the applicable waiting period from the date of your arrest of 180 days for Class C misdemeanors, one year for Class A and B misdemeanors, and three years for felony charges
Expunging your criminal record allows you to have a clean slate, with no mention of the arrest following you and affecting your future. To file for expunction, our attorney will help you submit the appropriate application in the arresting county and submit a fingerprint card from the Department of Public Safety. After presenting the necessary materials, the county clerk will coordinate with DPS and arrange a court hearing to clear your record.
Nondisclosures, while providing less forgiveness on your record, protect your past from the public’s eyes. The process, which can be done as either automatic nondisclosure for first-time misdemeanors or as nondisclosures with petitions, essentially seals your record from everyone but criminal justice agencies, listing agencies, and select government entities.
Automatic nondisclosures for first time misdemeanors offer some relief to offenders meeting specific criteria. Through this process, the offender does not need to file anything. If it is the offender’s first misdemeanor besides traffic fines and it resulted in a discharge or dismissal, the charge will automatically be sealed, regardless of the level of the misdemeanor.
For a nondisclosure with petition, those convicted of a felony must wait at least five years before they may apply for nondisclosure. Those with serious misdemeanor convictions must wait two years. After the waiting period, the individual may file a petition for nondisclosure in the court where they were convicted. After the filing, the clerk will notify the state’s prosecutor and a hearing may be held.
Still, not all offenses are eligible for any method of record sealing. The following offenses are ineligible for nondisclosure:
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Family violence offenses
- Human trafficking
- Injuries afflicted upon a child, disabled person, or elderly person
- Offenses requiring registration as a sex offender
While government officials and other entities may still retain access to your records, nondisclosure, like expunction, rids the requirement of disclosing your record when applying for jobs or doing anything as you move forward in life. With these measures, you can effectively leave the past in the past.
If you need assistance expunging or sealing your criminal record, contact The Law Office of Rene A. Flores PLLC.