Lawyer To Expunge Criminal Record: Everyone makes mistakes in life. For some people, those mistakes are significant enough to result in an arrest and charges that lead to a criminal conviction. A criminal record can drastically affect your reputation and decrease your access to opportunities in the future.  It can impact things such as employment opportunities, personal credit, and housing options. Most convictions cannot be removed from a criminal record, but Texas law allows for the expungement of records for arrests and charges from permanent records in some specific circumstances. 

Expunction is defined by the American Bar Association as “the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal record.”  The court order instructs the agencies with the records to treat expunged arrests, charges, and prosecutions as if they had never occurred, essentially removing them from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record. These court orders require state agencies and private companies to remove all references to those arrests, charges, and prosecutions from their digital files, and the destruction of printed, as well as hard copies of all related documents. 

Many crimes are eligible for expungement in Texas, from felonies to misdemeanors, if statutory conditions for eligibility are met.  These conditions are outlined in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. To determine if you are eligible for clearing or sealing your Texas criminal record, review your criminal history report and the Texas Code with an experienced attorney. Expunctions are sometimes granted quickly depending on the outcome of the case, but frequently the process takes additional time. It should also be noted that petitions for expunctions can be filed several years after an arrest has been made, charges have been filed, or a case has been dismissed by the court.

Expunctions effectively erase records and data of criminal offenses permanently in the state of Texas. However, the process does have limits based on the outcome of the case. If you are ineligible for an expunction, another option to consider is an order of nondisclosure. A nondisclosure order essentially conceals certain criminal offenses so they cannot be disclosed to the public. 

The key difference between expunction and nondisclosure orders is that an expunction order results in the erasure of your criminal history record and destruction of the files, while a nondisclosure order results in restricted access to your criminal history record. The offenses covered by the nondisclosure order remain visible to criminal justice agencies, licensing agencies, and some government organizations, but you are not legally bound to disclose the sealed information in certain situations such as when submitting employment applications, college applications, or housing applications such as for a home mortgage loan. 

You may be eligible for an order of nondisclosure to seal your record, depending on the particularities of the criminal offense, specifically, the type of crime and the sentence imposed by the court (i.e. deferred adjudication, standard community supervision or straight conviction). Texas law allows you to submit a petition for nondisclosure after deferred adjudication probation is completed, and in some situations requires a waiting period where you cannot have been convicted convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for another offense.  Some defendants can even have the records of a conviction sealed for first time offenders.  This even includes DWI convictions as long as there was not an accident involving another person.

There are several factors to consider when considering whether to apply for expunction or nondisclosure orders. The process to obtain either type of order is complicated and can be confusing.  It is important to consult a qualified attorney to help determine if you are eligible and in the application process. The Law Office of Collin Evans is a Houston-based law practice that serves Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, and Galveston County. The Law Office of Collin Evans is available to answer your questions about Texas expunctions or any other legal topic. Collin Evans is an honest and dedicated attorney with over a decade of experience who is ready to provide legal counsel and assist you with your needs. For a free consultation and more information about the legal services available, contact Collin Evans online or by phone at 713-225-0650.