Having an arrest or indictment on your criminal record can be disastrous to your personal and professional life. Did you know that after you have accepted deferred adjudication probations for your misdemeanor and/or felony arrest and have completed the probation in agreement with a dismissal, this offense still remains on your record for life? Did you know that even though your case got dismissed, it still shows up as a dismissal (with the charge) for the rest of your life? This is one the biggest generally accepted misconceptions regarding a dismissal.
Your arrest, court, and probation terms remain on your record, and are available to the public unless you are granted a petition for non-disclosure by the courts or an expunction. These measures will have your offense legally removed from your record by the courts. You may be entitled to have your Texas criminal record cleaned if you meet certain qualifications.
For more information and to find out if you qualify, call a Houston expunction lawyer at Thiessen Law Firm at (713) 864-9000. We’re here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Order for Non-Disclosure vs. Expunction
In plain English, an order for non-disclosure involves removing harmful information from the public eye. An expunction erases the information as if the incident never happened.
An order for non-disclosure is an order that prevents law enforcement agencies from making your records available to the public. It also allows you to legally deny the occurrence of the arrest and prosecution. Your present and future employers, lenders, educational institutions, leasing agents, landlords, adoption agencies, neighbors, and everyone else may have access and view your record, potentially with negative consequences. The intent behind the order for non-disclosure is to protect you from criminal background check prejudice.
However, sealing the record from the public is not the same as expunging a record. Sealing only prevents release to the public, which means that this information will still be available to law enforcement and other state agencies, and may still be used against you should there be any subsequent criminal proceedings. In order to have your record cleared completely, you must qualify for an expunction. In Texas, an expunction is the complete deletion of an entire criminal file. This is to help you if you have been wrongfully arrested and/or if you have been acquitted/found not guilty of your offense. Once expunged, you can legally deny ever being arrested for that incident.
For more information, see Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 55. Expunction of Criminal Records.
Eligibility for Sealing a Record Through a Petition for Non-Disclosure
An order of non-disclosure is available if you have received deferred adjudication probation and successfully completed the probation. This is only for defendants who have successfully completed the deferred adjudication probation agreement. You must not have been convicted or placed on deferred for any other offense; final convictions are not eligible. The only convictions eligible for expunction are certain offenses pertaining to alcohol.
Other actions that will prohibit you from becoming eligible are:
- Being found guilty of a lesser included offense
- Placement on regular probation
- Paying a fine
- A time served jail sentence
Other crimes that are ineligible for an order of non-disclosure are:
- Capital murder
- Sex offenses
- Injury to a child or elderly person
- Violation of a protective order
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Any offense involving family violence
For some misdemeanors, there is a two-year waiting period from the date you completed your probation. For other misdemeanors, there is no waiting period.
Regarding felonies, there is a five-year waiting period from the date that you completed the probation.
Expunction Eligibility in Texas
For starters, not every type of probation is eligible for an expunction. Although deferred adjudication probation may be subject to non-disclosure, it can never be completely erased. Remember, though, the pre-trial diversion program (most commonly used in DWI, theft, and drug offenses) is not considered probation, and may be eligible for expunction.
Other eligibility requirements for the expunction of your criminal record include:
- You were found “not guilty” at trial
- Criminal charges against you were dismissed
- You were convicted, but your conviction was later overturned on appeal
- Your case was dismissed or “no-billed” by the Grand Jury
- You were arrested for an offense, but the case was never filed
- You are a victim of identity theft, and the arrested person falsely gave your information
For misdemeanors, expunctions are allowed if your offense was dismissed with no court-ordered probation, you were acquitted by the trial court, or pardoned and released without court-ordered probation, and you also have no prior felony convictions in the five years preceding your date of arrest.
Regarding felonies, you must have had the charge dismissed with no probation and have not had a felony conviction within five years of your offense subject to expunction. Certain felonies have exceptions, exclusions, and stipulations regarding eligibility that we would be happy to discuss in greater detail with you.
Eligibility for the Second Chance Bill
In September 2017, a new law went into effect in Texas that allows individuals with only one DWI conviction on their record and who meet certain criteria to seal their charges from public record.
Under House Bill 1306, also known as the Second Chance Bill, you are eligible to have your DWI conviction sealed if the following are true:
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was not higher than 0.150 at the time of arrest.
- Your DWI did not result in an accident with another person.
- You have successfully completed probation, paid fines and court fees, and all other aspects of your sentencing.
- Other than traffic tickets and the one DWI, your criminal history is clean.
- You completed your DWI probation two or more years ago.
Thiessen Law Firm can help you understand if you are eligible to seal your DWI conviction from public record and how to proceed.
An order for non-disclosure will prohibit public information brokers that sell your records for background checks from releasing that information once they have been notified of the existence of an order of non-disclosure. There are many websites that offer these services, and each one must be served individually to ensure compliance.
Contact Thiessen Law Firm for Skilled Expunction Counsel in Houston
Our Houston expunction attorneys are dedicated in achieving the very best for every client. If you think you may or may not be eligible for a nondisclosure or expunction, please contact the Thiessen Law Firm for a free consultation so that we may help you look forward to the future, knowing that your past is behind you.
Give us a call at (713) 864-9000 today to get started.