SEAL YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD

Has your Criminal History Come Back to Haunt You?

Now, more than ever, the information contained in your criminal history can have far-reaching and long-lasting effects.  Background searches are now standard in connection with employment, loan applications, rental agreements, and even social interactions.  The internet has made it easy for even the novice user to obtain criminal history information.  Moreover, even if your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty, records of the arrest and charge remain a matter of public record.  

Sealing Your Record

In some circumstances, the law may allow you to SEAL these records from public access (Nondisclosure) or perhaps even DESTROY the records all together (expunction).  Think of the freedom and peace of mind you would enjoy if you could legally deny the fact of arrest and related court proceedings.  Contact our office to find out if you are eligible for an order of nondisclosure or expunction.

 Nondisclosure

 Order of Nondisclosure prohibits public disclosure of criminal history records.  The law has been expanded to allow nondisclosure in many circumstances including most successfully completed deferred adjudications and certain misdemeanor final convictions.  In 2017, the legislature authorized nondisclosure for first-time DWI offenders.

When the trial court issues an Order of Nondisclosure, an order will be sent to the Department of Public Safety, law enforcement agencies, jail or other detention facilities, magistrates, courts, prosecuting attorneys, correctional facilities, central state depositories of criminal records, and other officials or agencies or other entities that there is reason to believe have criminal history record information which is the subject of the order. 

A person granted an order of nondisclosure may legally deny the fact of the arrest, prosecution and subsequent proceedings unless it is being used against him in a subsequent criminal prosecution.  

Record Availability After Nondisclosure Is Issued

Please be aware that even after an order of nondisclosure is issued, the information remains available to criminal justice agencies for criminal justice and regulatory licensing purposes as well as any of the 32 agencies listed in Texas Gov’t Code 411.0765 and 411.081(j).

 Expunction

Expunction is a process by which all records relating to an arrest and prosecution are destroyed pursuant to court order.  A person placed under custodial or non-custodial arrest for a felony or misdemeanor is entitled to have all files and records related to the arrest expunged (destroyed) under one of the following scenarios.

Contact our office to find out if you are eligible for an order of expunction or nondisclosure.

  • Acquittal or Pardon – a person found Not Guilty after a trial is entitled to have all records relating to the arrest and court proceedings expunged;
  • Pardon – a person is convicted of an offense but later receives a full pardon from the governor;
  • Misdemeanors – (1) person released; (2) charge no longer pending; (3) no resulting final conviction or community supervision under article 42.12 CCP, other than for a class C misdemeanor; and (4) no felony conviction for the five years prior to arrest.
  • Felonies – a person charged with a felony is eligible for expunction as follows: (1) same requirements as for misdemeanors and indictment or information not presented or (2) Indictment quashed or dismissed and the statute of limitations has expired and presentment of the indictment made because of mistake, false information, or other reason indicating lack of probable cause at the time of dismissal to believe the person committed an offense or because the indictment was void.

After Expunction Is Granted

When expunction is granted, the release, maintenance, dissemination, or use of expunged records for any person is prohibited.  The person may deny the occurrence of arrest an expunction order.  If questioned under oath, the person may state only that the matter has been expunged.  The knowing release, dissemination of expunged records, or knowing failure to return or disseminate expunged records is a Class B misdemeanor.