If you have a criminal record in Texas, you may already know how it can impact your life. An arrest that happened years ago can impact your career, your ability to obtain professional licenses, education, and even your ability to rent or buy a home.
Fortunately, Texas lawmakers understand that people make mistakes. So, under Texas law, you may qualify for expunction or nondisclosure of your criminal record. Expunction, which is also called expungement, permanently removes or destroys records related to an arrest, while nondisclosure seals the records from public view.
In Texas, you may qualify for expunction in these limited situations:
Class C Misdemeanors Resulting in Deferred Adjudication
You may expunge Class C misdemeanors if you completed deferred adjudication. After a guilty or “no contest” plea, a court may decide to place you on deferred adjudication, a special kind of probation, instead of entering a guilty verdict. Deferred adjudication is a special type of court-ordered community supervision that can also include drug or alcohol classes or other conditions of probation. After you complete the terms of your deferred adjudication, the court will dismiss the charges.
Felony or Misdemeanors Not Resulting in Conviction
These non-convictions that qualify for expunction include cases resulting in acquittal, dropped charges, charges dismissed by a court, and cases where the police didn’t file any formal charges. There are some felony charges that are not eligible for expunction.
You may qualify for your records’ expunction if you receive a pardon from the governor for your crime, although these are rare. Typically, once convicted of a crime in Texas, expunction is no longer an option.
If you qualify for expunction because you were acquitted or went through deferred adjudication or deferred disposition, there is no waiting period for expunction. However, if the police arrested you but never formally charged you with a crime, there are waiting periods before you qualify for expunction based on the crime’s grading:
Class C Misdemeanors: 180 days from the date of arrest
Class A and B Misdemeanors: One year from the date of arrest
Felonies: Three years from the date of your arrest
Tex. Crim. Code § 55.01 (2019). Moreover, if the police did bring charges against you, you must wait for the statute of limitations to expire for every crime the police arrested you for, not just those charged. Some serious felony charges are not eligible for expunction, including murder, domestic violence, human trafficking, stalking, and any crime that would require you to register as a sex offender if convicted.
If you believe you qualify for expunction, you need guidance from a Texas attorney experienced in expunctions. The Law Office of Kenneth W Mullen PC can help.
Nondisclosure involves blocking or removing your criminal records from public view. While some cases qualify for automatic nondisclosure, others require a petition.
You may qualify for automatic nondisclosure of your record for first-time misdemeanors occurring after September 1, 2015, that resulted in deferred adjudication and dismissal. The judge must also order nondisclosure at the end of your case. There is no waiting period, and you won’t need to file anything.
Petition for Nondisclosure
For all other nondisclosures, you must file a petition. You may qualify if your case ended in dismissal or deferred adjudication. There may be a waiting period depending on the offense:
The waiting period for misdemeanors under Texas Penal Code Chapters 20, 21, 22, 25, 42, and 46 is two years.
The waiting period for felonies is five years.
For all other offenses, there is no waiting period. This includes Class A and B misdemeanors once discharged.
Tex. Gov’t Code § 411.074 (2017). Some crimes do not qualify for nondisclosure, even if they end in dismissal or deferred adjudication. These crimes include those involving crimes that require registration as a sex offender, those involving family violence, and aggravated offenses like murder, kidnapping, injury to a child or elderly person, stalking, and abandoning or endangering a child. Some veterans of the armed services may be exempt from the rules barring nondisclosure for these offenses.
It’s important to remember that, even after nondisclosure, these records will still be accessible to law enforcement agencies, professional licensing entities, and government agencies.
If you need to have your Texas criminal record expunged, you need an experienced expunction attorney. Attorney Kenneth Mullen is a seasoned Texas criminal defense attorney with years of experience helping clients with expunction, or sometimes known as expungement, and nondisclosure of criminal records. Call The Law Office of Kenneth W Mullen PC at 817-406-9656 or contact us online.