EXPUNCTION & NONDISCLOSURE
FORT WORTH CRIMINAL RECORD ATTORNEYS
As Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers, we believe that a person’s past mistakes shouldn’t define who they are now. We believe in the best in people and that God’s purpose for us all is to live up to who we are called to be and not just remain stuck in our past. We want to help you clean up your record and keep your past from dragging you down.
How can I clear my record?
The most common question we get when clients come in to speak with us about their record is, “how can I clear my record?” While the question may be simple, the answer is much more difficult.
Once an arrest has occurred – regardless of whether your case was dismissed, dropped, prosecuted or taken to trial – if there’s any chance of clearing it from your record, you’ll need a criminal defense attorney’s help to wade through the waters of criminal record laws.
What does “Expunction” and “Non-Disclosure” mean?
Terminology alone can be confusing when it comes to clearing up a person’s record. Most people know what it means to have their record “sealed”. But, in Texas, this is called nondisclosure. In order to keep a person’s Texas criminal record from being disclosed to the public, a person must obtain an Order for Nondisclosure from a judge. Expunction is the word our law uses when referring to clearing an arrest completely off of a person’s record. In order to completely destroy records of an arrest occurring, a person must also obtain an Order Expunging the arrest from a judge.
How can your criminal defense layers help me get a nondisclosure or expunction?
If you’ve been arrested and your case has concluded, our criminal defense lawyers are trained and experienced in evaluating your record and helping you find out if your record can be expunged or non-disclosed.
Wading through the waters of the law of expunctions and non-disclosures and juvenile record sealing can be difficult and complicated. At BHW, we’re here to navigate. Our attorneys have extensive experience working with expunctions and non-disclosures. We’ll evaluate your case for free and consult with you as to the best path to go about getting your record clear.
Can I Clear My Criminal Record? Am I Eligible for an Expunction?
Whether or not the arrest on your record can be cleared, or expunged, depends on what the final disposition of the case was. To be eligible for an expunction a person’s case must have either been dismissed outright, found not guilty at trial, been a Class C offense (or ticket) that was dismissed because of deferred adjudication, never charged (given a certain waiting period has expired), pardoned, or the State prosecutor recommends the case be expunged. If your case fits in one of these categories and is expunged, the law in Texas even goes on to state that you can legally deny the existence of the arrest if asked in the future.
If your case doesn’t fit into one of the categories listed above, then you’re not eligible to have the case expunged off of your record. But, you still may be able to seal your record (otherwise known as non-disclosure).
Can my case be expunged now? Or, is there a waiting period to have my case expunged?
There are waiting periods when it comes to an Order for Expunction. The waiting period for expunctions depends on the type of case that the arrest was for:
- Class C Misdemeanors (Ticket offenses): At least 180 days have elapsed from the date of arrest.
- Class A or B Misdemeanors: At least one year has elapsed from the date of arrest.
- Felonies: At least three years have elapsed from the date of the arrest.
If the attorney that represents the State certifies that the arrest records and files are not needed for use in any criminal investigation or prosecution, including an investigation or prosecution of another person, then the expunction can occur immediately. Expunctions can be issued immediately if a person is acquitted at trial as well.
If I am not Eligible for an Expunction, is there any other way to Clear my Record? Sealing your record and Non-Disclosures
If your case was a Class A or Class B misdemeanor and a non-exempt felony offense and you completed a deferred adjudication probation on your case, you may be eligible for a nondisclosure (or sealing your arrest record). There are some prerequisites – like not being arrested for any new offense since you finished the deferred adjudication probation, or having been convicted of certain other types of exempted offenses. But, generally speaking, if you successfully completed a deferred adjudication, it’s likely that you’ll be eligible for a nondisclosure.
NON-DISCLOSURE OF CRIMINAL RECORDS
Can I keep people from seeing my Texas criminal record?
Generally, if you successfully completed deferred adjudication probation on your case, you will likely be eligible for an Order for Nondisclosure which will keep the general public from seeing your criminal record.
Is there a difference between having a Texas criminal record sealed and a nondisclosure?
Most people know what it means to have their record “sealed”. But, in Texas, this is technically called nondisclosure. In order to keep a person’s Texas criminal record from being disclosed to the public, a person must obtain an Order for Nondisclosure from a judge. The specific term “sealing” a record refers more to juvenile cases. See below for more information on juvenile record sealing.
What cases will still be disclosed even if I successfully completed my deferred adjudication?
There are some types of cases that cannot be cleared by non-disclosure even though there was no conviction and someone successfully completed deferred adjudication.
- Any case involving family violence
- Violations of Court Orders in Family Cases
- Endangering or Abandoning a Child
- Capital Murder
- Injury to a Child, Elderly or Disabled
- Aggravated Kidnapping
- Any offense involving registration as a sex offender
What could keep me from getting an Order for Nondisclosure?
There are a few things that could keep a person from getting an Order for Nondisclosure:
- If the person did not successfully complete the deferred adjudication probation.
- If the person was convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication probation during the period of deferred adjudication probation for which the nondisclosure is requested or during the waiting period.
- Also, if there person has ever been previously convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any of the offenses listed in the section above.
If my record is sealed, will there still be certain people who know about my arrest?
Unfortunately, yes. While sealing your record via a nondisclosure is an important step in clearing up your record, there are still some groups and entities that will have access to your record. Agencies that will still have access to your record include:
- Law enforcement agencies;
- State Board of Educator Certification;
- School districts, charter schools, private schools, regional education service centers, commercial transportation companies, or education shared service arrangements;
- Texas State Board of Medical Examiners
- Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired;
- Texas Board of Law Examiners;
- State Bar of Texas;
- District court regarding a petition for name change
- Texas School for the Deaf;
- Department of Family and Protective Services;
- Texas Youth Commission;
- Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services;
- Department of State Health Services, a local mental health service, a local mental retardation authority, or a community center providing services to persons with mental illness or retardation;
- Texas Private Security Board;
- Municipal or volunteer fire department;
- Board of Nurse Examiners;
- Safe house providing shelter to children in harmful situations
- Public or nonprofit hospital or hospital district;
- Texas Juvenile Probation Commission;
- Securities commissioner, the banking commissioner, the savings and loan commissioner, or the credit union commissioner;
- Texas State Board of Public Accountancy;
- Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation;
- Health and Human Services Commission; and
- Department of Aging and Disability Services.
Is there a waiting period to get an Order for Nondisclosure?
It depends on the offense. For most misdemeanors, a nondisclosure can be obtained anytime on or after discharge and dismissal of the case. For misdemeanors involving kidnapping and unlawful restraint, sexual offenses, assaultive offenses, offenses against the family, disorderly conduct or weapons, a nondisclosure can be obtained anytime on or after the second anniversary of discharge and dismissal of the case. For Felonies, a nondisclosure can be obtained anytime on or after the fifth anniversary of discharge and dismissal of the case.
JUVENILE RECORD SEALING
In general, a juvenile’s criminal record is confidential and can only be disclosed in very limited circumstances. Regardless of the private nature of juvenile records, as Fort Worth, Texas criminal defense lawyers, we realize that even though a juvenile criminal matter may be resolved with success and confidentiality, it doesn’t mean a juvenile’s record is clear.
If you or your child have been subject to the Texas Juvenile Justice System, even if the matter was ultimately dismissed, it is still very likely that a juvenile criminal record of the incident still exists. That record could still be easily accessible through the Internet or through commercial services that run background checks and could affect you or your child’s future.
Contrary to popular belief, juvenile records are not automatically sealed. Texas does have a system in place called “Automatic Restriction of Access to Records,” which makes juvenile criminal records more difficult to access once the child turns 21 years old. However, most criminal agencies still have access to these records and can use them against a person in later criminal proceedings unless he or she takes the steps to seal the records.
What Does It Mean To “Seal” A Juvenile Record?
The term “seal” is actually more stringent than it’s common meaning when talking about juvenile records. When a juvenile record is “sealed,” it is treated as if it never existed.
Under the Texas Family Code, Section 58.003(j):
“A person whose records have been sealed…is not required in any proceeding or in any application for employment, information, or licensing to state that the person has been the subject of a proceeding under this title and any statement that the person has never been found to be a delinquent child shall never be held against the person in any criminal or civil proceeding.”
If a juvenile record is not sealed, anyone with a legitimate interest (potential employers, college admissions offices, etc.) will be able to access them. Getting a juvenile record sealed is an important step to ensuring a bright and successful future.
What Records Can Be Sealed?
Not all juvenile records can be sealed. If a juvenile was moved to an adult criminal court for an offense, that offense cannot be sealed. Further, if the offense required the juvenile to register in the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program, the offense cannot be sealed. If a juvenile has received a “determinate sentence” (usually meaning the child had to serve a term in TYC), for any of the following offenses, his or her juvenile records relating to that offense cannot be sealed:
- Murder, attempted murder, manslaughter
- Sexual assault, indecency with a child
- Aggravated assault, injury to a child, elderly or disabled person
- Aggravated robbery
- Deadly conduct with a firearm
- Criminal solicitation
- Conspiracy to commit any of the above offenses
When can juvenile records be sealed?
Generally, a person or child is eligible to have his or her juvenile records sealed once 2 years have elapsed since final discharge of the person or since the last official action in the person’s case if there was no adjudication.
If a person is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving a crime of moral turpitude during those two years, he or she also will not be eligible for the sealing.
Contact the Expunction and Non-Disclosure Lawyers of Barnett Howard & Williams PLLC at (817) 993-9249
Our attorneys represent clients in the State of Texas as well as military servicemembers around the world. We have extensive experience dealing with expunctions and non-disclosures of criminal records. To discuss your legal options and rights and to determine whether your case may qualify for an expunction or non-disclosure, contact us. We are eager to serve you. God bless.