Leaving the Past Behind: Expunction and Non-Disclosure of Criminal Records in Texas
Every day in Texas, citizens with criminal records are denied employment because of their criminal history. According to a recent study, 88% of employers conduct criminal background checks on applicants. Even misdemeanor convictions for acts as minor as petty theft or vandalism can cause a current or potential employer to pass you over for a job opportunity or promotion. In many instances, you may not even be aware that your criminal record was the reason for the job rejection.
If you are a Texan facing this problem, the law may provide a way to remove past mistakes from your record or at least keep those mistakes from being disclosed to potential employers and others.
An expunction (often called “expungement”) permanently erases an offense from your criminal record so that no one will ever be able to find out that you were charged with the offense—that includes police officers, prosecutors, or the court itself.
An expunction may available, but not guaranteed, for the following:
- An arrest for a crime that was never charged;
- A criminal charge that was ultimately dismissed;
- Certain juvenile misdemeanor offenses;
- Certain alcohol offenses involving a minor;
- Failure to attend school;
- Arrest, charge, and/or conviction on a person’s record due to identity theft by another individual;
- Conviction of a crime that was later acquitted by either a trial court or the court of appeals;
- Conviction of a crime that was later pardoned by the either the governor of Texas or the President of the United States.
Texas does not have an automatic process for the expunction of records. You will be required to file a Petition for Expunction in a Texas District Court. Additionally, there are specific waiting-period requirements that preclude you from receiving an expunction until a certain amount of time has passed since your conviction.
Given that expunction is far from guaranteed and that there are a number of bases for a Petition for Expunction to be denied, it’s important to consult with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer to determine your eligibility and assist you with the process.
Order of Non-Disclosure
An Order of Non-disclosure prevents a clerk of the court from disclosing the presence of an offense to others, including employers, but the conviction and related information stays on your record and is available to law enforcement, government agencies, and other authorities.
A petition for non-disclosure is only available to those who have successfully completed deferred adjudication probation. A person who has positively completed a deferred adjudication probation for a class C misdemeanor, a class B misdemeanor, a class A misdemeanor, or a felony, may (depending on the criminal offense committed) be able to ask the judge of the court of original jurisdiction that put him/her on deferred adjudication to sign an “order of nondisclosure” prohibiting governmental agencies from disclosing the existence of the charge or the deferred adjudication sentence.
A person who completes deferred adjudication probation and who succeeds on a petition for non-disclosure can have the offense record sealed.
Both expunction and non-disclosure offer opportunities for eligible individuals to move beyond their past mistakes and increase their chances of a brighter future. Contact a Texas criminal defense lawyer who can help you build that future.
Mark Diaz – Experienced Houston/Galveston Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced lawyer who focuses exclusively on defending criminal cases and who will aggressively protect your rights. Throughout my career, I have successfully handled every type of criminal defense case, and have assisted many clients with expunction and non-disclosure. More importantly, criminal defense is the only thing I do. I have witnessed firsthand how a criminal charge can negatively impact every area of a person’s life. As a lawyer, I consider it a privilege to help people during this stressful time in their lives. Call me today at (409) 515-6170 for a free consultation to discuss your case.