If you have been charged in a court of law, you likely have a criminal record, as do about 77 million other Americans.
Even though you don’t have to receive a conviction to have a criminal record, its consequences can be far-reaching. For instance, getting hired become more difficult, as will getting housing and qualifying for bank loans.
It’s no wonder those affected are always trying to clean their record. The bad news is the process to remove a criminal record is not that straightforward, and the laws vary from state to state.
If you’re in Texas, here is how to go about expunction of a criminal record.
Understand the Nature of Your Criminal Record
While expunction laws on Texas allow you to remove a criminal record, not all crimes are eligible for sealing.
Therefore, the first step to cleaning your record is to understand the nature of your crime and know whether it’s eligible for expunction. For instance, if you’ve served a DWI conviction, there is no way it’s getting off your record. State law doesn’t allow.
Also, you cannot get a straight probation off your criminal record.
Expunction or Nondisclosure?
In Texas, there are two ways to fix your criminal record: expunction or order of nondisclosure. What’s the difference?
Expunction allows an arrest or charges to be completely removed from your record – like it never happened. On the other hand, an order of nondisclosure only seals a specific crime on your record. It will stay on your record, yes, but it will not be accessible to the general public.
A criminal record may be eligible for expunction if:
- There was a conviction, but you were found not-guilty
- You received an acquittal of a criminal charge
- You received a pardon after a conviction
- No formal charges brought against you after an arrest (You must satisfy the appropriate waiting period requirements)
If a court found you guilty of a crime, you pled guilty or no contest to an offense and have completed differed adjunction community supervision, you can petition the court to order a nondisclosure. However, the court cannot order a non-disclosure for any of the following crimes:
- Human trafficking
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Family/Domestic assault
- Sex offenses that require you to register as a sex offender
- Causing injury to a child, disabled person or elderly person.
File for Expunction or Nondisclosure
A qualifying charge is not automatically expunged or sealed. It’s your responsibility to file a petition for nondisclosure or expunction in a court of law or the relevant clemency board.
Remove a Criminal Record with Legal Help
As in most states, Texas criminal record expunction and non-disclosure laws and procedures are complex and can change without notice. If you’re not familiar with the system, it’s not easy to remove a criminal record all by yourself.
Finding a lawyer, especially one who specializes in criminal law, will give you the best chance of clearing a criminal record.