Your criminal record can wreak havoc on your life for years to come. It can make it difficult to secure and maintain employment and housing, your reputation in the community might be significantly damaged, and your record might be used against you in a custody case. As a result, even though you’ve paid your debt to society, you might feel like your criminal history rests heavily on your shoulders like a burden that you’ll forever carry.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. Under Texas law, you have the ability to obtain expunction, oftentimes referred to as expungement, and non-disclosure. Each of these avenues can protect you from the harmful effects of your criminal record, but they aren’t protections that are automatically handed out. Therefore, let’s take a look at each and what you can do to position yourself to successfully seeking them out.
Expunction under Texas law
Expunction is the removal of your criminal history, in its entirety, from all public records. Not even law enforcement officers and prosecutors can see your history if it’s been expunged. In other words, if your successfully expunge your record, then it’s like the conviction never happened in the first place.
Although this is a powerful way to reclaim your life, it’s limited to an extent in that only certain criminal records can be expunged. Under Texas law, only those who fit into the following categories may be able to have their criminal records expunged:
- Those who were arrested but never charged
- The conviction was obtained through a plea bargain
- A conviction was overturned on appeal
- A deferred adjudication was issued for a Class C misdemeanor
So, if you’ve been convicted of a Class A or B misdemeanor or a felony, then you can’t have your record expunged.
Non-disclosure under Texas law
This is where non-disclosure comes in. If you were convicted of a more serious offense, then non-disclosure may be your only option. Here, your records are removed from public view, but they’re still observable to law enforcement and prosecutors. So, even though this is a more limited protection, it can still enhance your ability to secure employment and housing.
In order to successfully secure an order of non-disclosure, though, you’ll have to demonstrate that you meet certain requirements. This includes that you haven’t previously been convicted of a serious crime like child endangerment, stalking, family violence, kidnapping, or a sex offense requiring registration as a sex offender.
You’ll also need to gather relevant documents in preparation for submission to the court. This includes charging documents and an order showing that you’ve completed your probation and abided by other penalties imposed upon you.
In addition, you’d want to be ready to argue why it’s in the best interest of justice for your record to be sealed. These are probably going to be subjective arguments, so think through your circumstances and how you can articulate that sealing your record is fair.
Do you want help dealing with your criminal record?
Successfully expunging or sealing your record can change the trajectory of your future. But if you’re ill prepared as you file your request or go into your court hearing on these matters, then you might find yourself less likely to succeed.
That’s why it might be wise for you to have an advocate on your side as you navigate your request. An attorney who is experienced in handling these matters can give you the advice and guidance that you need to make the decisions that are right for you.
If you’d like to learn more about what that representation would look like, please consider reaching out to an experienced criminal defense firm like ours for more information.