The specter of past crimes can follow you for a long, long time. It can affect employment prospects, housing options and even prevent you from pursuing education. So, a common question we hear is: is it possible to have the record wiped clean? The answer is yes – sometimes.
Non disclosures and expungements are not an easy process. In Texas, if you are convicted, there is no way to expunge or seal your record unless you first receive a pardon.
If you have received and completed a deferred probation, you can apply for what is known as a non disclosure. This means that the crime might show up a few specialized background checks, but it will be sealed for the general public. Not every crime is eligible for a non disclosure. DWI, for example, cannot be non disclosed.
If your case is dismissed outright or through a pretrial diversion program, your case is eligible for an expungement. An expungement means that no one will ever be able to see your case again, including law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office.
If you are sentenced to deferred adjudication and complete it or get your case dismissed, you can have your attorney file a petition and order with the District court in the county of arrest or conviction to ask a judge to seal or expunge those records. If the judge grants the motion, he or she will issue an order of expunction (or expungement) or an order of non-disclosure, preventing the crime from being seen on public records.
How Do I Begin the Process of Having My Record Sealed or Expunged?
The easiest way to begin the process is to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will help you acquire and fill out a Petition for Expunction or Nondisclosure. Once the form is filled out, notarized and filed, the courts will schedule you a hearing and send notice to all respondents. From there, you will undergo the hearing and, if everything works out correctly, your petition will be granted. Note that it is easy to mess up when filling out this information on your own, which can delay the process to your detriment, so an attorney can be a valuable resource to make sure it is done right the first time.