A criminal record can, in its own way, be a life sentence that can have a huge negative impact on a person’s life. The Texas Department of Public Safety makes it particularly easy for anyone to find a criminal record, which can affect:
- Future criminal cases – any subsequent criminal charges will carry more severe penalties and sentencing if you already have a criminal record.
- Employment opportunities – criminal convictions make it more difficult to find a job and most employers require criminal background checks.
- Child custody – criminal records can limit your child custody rights, especially if the charges involved violence.
- Driving privileges – criminal records often affect your driver’s license, as well as your right to own a firearm.
Worse, some people are unaware they even have a criminal record, especially in cases of stolen or mistaken identity. Additionally, your criminal record will show even if you’ve bene falsely accused, your case didn’t make it to court or you were found innocent. However, there are ways to hide your criminal record from the public.
What is the Difference Between Expunction and an Order of Nondisclosure?
In the state of Texas, it may be possible for a criminal record to be legally hidden through one of two means. Expunction, or having your criminal record sealed means the public will no longer be able to see it. If your record is expunged, it is likely you will be able to claim you have never been arrested or convicted of a crime. If you were arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony, you may qualify for an expunction in the following instances:
- You were acquitted
- You were convicted, but then found to actually be innocent
- You were convicted, but then pardoned
- You were formally charged, but the case was dismissed and the statute of limitations expired
- You were arrested, but not actually charged and you’ve waited the allotted time period before filing
In order to petition a court for an order of nondisclosure, you have to have pled guilty, been found guilty or pled no contest to any offense, except a Class C misdemeanor. You must also have completed any deferred adjudication community supervision. An order of nondisclosure will prevent certain government agencies from revealing your criminal history.
If you are interested in starting over with a clean slate, consult with a criminal defense lawyer who can determine if you qualify for an expunction or an order of nondisclosure in Texas.
Mike Goolsby is a Dallas criminal defense attorney who will fight to clear your criminal record. We help those in the DFW, McKinney, Plano and Arlington areas of Texas.