November 23, 2023

A scale depicting the complexities involved in weighing the differences between expunctions and nondisclosures in Texas

If you have a criminal record in Texas, it doesn’t always mean it will follow you for the rest of your life. Generally, if you want to either get rid of or hide your record, there are two legal options available: Expunctions and non-disclosures – Both of which offer a fresh start, but they have vastly different procedures and outcomes. 

Understanding these options, your eligibility, and which option is best for your case can be tricky without the help of a record sealing and expunction attorney in Texas. Contact The Napier Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help you fix the past and move forward into a brighter future. 

Continue reading for insights into the non-disclosure (record sealing) and expunction process. 

Expunctions in Texas: Erasing Criminal Records

Expunctions in Texas allow for the total erasure of your criminal record – which is highly helpful for people who’ve been arrested but never convicted. 

  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • Expunctions are generally available for arrests that didn’t lead to a conviction. That includes cases where the charges were dismissed, acquitted, or class c misdemeanors that resulted in deferred adjudication.
  • The waiting period can vary, typically ranging from immediate eligibility for some misdemeanors to a three-year period for felonies. Further, if you were officially charged with a crime, you’ll have to wait for the statute of limitations to expire for every crime you were arrested for (even the ones you weren’t charged with).
  • Benefits of Expunction:
    • Give you a clean slate by legally erasing your criminal record.
    • Empowers you to deny the occurrence of the incident (legally) – Which is absolutely crucial for employment or other background checks.

Nondisclosures in Texas: Sealing Criminal Records

Nondisclosures (i.e., record sealing) in Texas involves the restriction of public access to your criminal records (i.e., arrest records, court proceedings, and sentence). However, it’s important to note that your record can still be accessed by specific government agencies and entities. 

Eligibility for Nondisclosure

  • Typically available for those who have successfully completed deferred adjudication probation. 
  • Certain offenses, particularly violent or more serious crimes, are excluded.

Benefits of Nondisclosure

  • Offers a comfortable level of privacy by concealing the record from most private entities 
  • Reduces barriers in employment, housing, and other areas where a criminal record can be absolutely detrimental
  • There’s an automatic nondisclosure for first-time misdemeanors (outside of traffic fines) and dismissed/discharged charges occurring after August 31, 2017. In most cases, you don’t have to file for this, but you might have to remind the courts. 

Sealing/Expunging Minor Criminal Records in Texas

For most minor offenses, Texas law allows you to seal to expunge your criminal criminal record, which can be a breath of fresh air for those who’ve committed lesser crimes. 

  • Juvenile Records: Most juvenile records can be sealed. Doing so enables  young offenders a chance to enter adulthood without the burden and social shame of a criminal past.
  • Misdemeanors: Certain low-level misdemeanors, especially crimes committed by first-time offenders, may qualify for expungement or nondisclosure – Contact us today to speak about your eligibility. 

Comparison: Expungement vs. Nondisclosure

ExpungementNondisclosure (Record Sealing)
DefinitionComplete erasure of recordSealing of record from public view
EligibilityTypically for arrests not leading to convictionFor completed deferred adjudication
Record AccessibilityTreated as if the offense never occurredStill accessible to government agencies
BenefitsAllows denying the incidentLimits public access, aiding in employment
Offense TypesGenerally non-convictionsSome misdemeanors and felonies

Don’t Let a Criminal Record Hold You Back – Contact Us Today

Determining eligibility and the steps you should take for expunctions and nondisclosures in Texas typically requires the expertise of a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer who knows the ins and outs erasing or sealing your record understands the need to assess your unique situation, apply the law, and advocate for your rights. 

At The Napier Law Firm, we’re here to help you clear their criminal record and get your life back on track. Whether it’s just expunging a minor offense or filing for a nondisclosure, our experienced attorneys can provide the expertise and support needed to navigate these complex legal processes.

Contact us today for your free consultation with a record sealing and expunction lawyer in Houston – Take the first step towards reclaiming your future and leaving your past behind.

FAQ: Understanding Expunctions and Record Sealing in Texas

What Happens at an Expunction and Record Sealing Hearing in Texas?

In both expunction and record sealing hearings, the court reviews the respective petition to ensure eligibility and compliance with Texas law. For expunctions, the focus is on whether the offense can be legally erased, while for record sealing, it’s about limiting public access. Petitioners typically present their case, sometimes with legal representation, to justify why their record should be expunged or sealed.

Will My Expunged or Sealed Record Show Up on a Background Check in Texas?

Expunged records will not appear on most background checks, as they are legally destroyed. Sealed records, however, may still be visible to certain government agencies, though they are hidden from public access, including standard employment checks.

Can You Pursue Law Enforcement Careers if You Get Your Record Expunged or Sealed in Texas?

Expungement can enhance eligibility for law enforcement careers, as the record is treated as non-existent. However, sealed records, while not publicly accessible, might still be considered by law enforcement agencies during their vetting processes.

Can Federal Agencies Like the FBI Access Expunged or Sealed Records in Texas?

Federal agencies, including the FBI, may access expunged records in highly specific situations (i.e., security clearances or for national security purposes). Though sealed records are typically easier to access for most federal agencies compared to expunged records, they still offer a level of much needed privacy from public eyes.

How Long Does the Expungement or Record Sealing Process Take in Texas?

Expungement and record sealing have different timelines based on individual circumstances. However, they usually range from a few weeks to several months. Further the time frame can be affected by the court’s schedule and other factors. 

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Seeking Expunction or Record Sealing in Texas?

There’s not a strict statute of limitations for those seeking either expunction or record sealing. For the most part, your eligibility mostly depends on meeting specific conditions related to the offense, including the required waiting periods.

Are There Recent Changes to Texas Law Regarding Expunctions and Record Sealing?

Texas law on expunctions and record sealing is subject to change. Recent amendments have in some ways expanded eligibility or simplified the procedures. For instance, some DWI offenses and Unlawful Carrying Weapons (UCW) convictions have become eligible for expunction under specific conditions.

However, as always, it’s rather important to consult with a legal expert for the latest laws and how they could apply to the specifics of your case.

Can Expunctions or Record Sealing Affect Future Legal Proceedings in Texas?

Both expunctions and record sealing have different impacts on future legal proceedings. Since an expunged record is completely erased it usually has no bearing on future legal matters. Sealed records, on the other hand, while not visible to the public, can still be considered in future legal proceedings, especially those involving state or federal authorities. This difference is absolutely crucial in understanding the long-term implications of each option.