What Does It Mean to Have a Criminal Record Sealed?
Some cases are eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure from the court, which will have the effect of “sealing” the individual’s record. This means that while criminal justice agencies are the few who can still see expunged records in Texas, the general public will not be able to see them. Therefore, these records will not appear in most background checks, including for employment.
Furthermore, a person whose criminal history has been sealed through an Order of Non-Disclosure may legally deny the associated arrest and criminal case, except in very particular circumstances.
While it is not as absolute as an expunction, this is often the best available alternative for people whose cases do not qualify to be expunged.
Process of Expunging a Criminal Record
The first step in having your criminal records relating to a case removed is to file an expunction petition with the court. Following this, there will be a hearing where the court will decide whether your record should be expunged.
This process will involve legal arguments, evidence, and testimony regarding the merits of your petition. You may have an Austin criminal defense attorney present at the hearing to represent you.
If your case does not meet the strict criteria necessary for expunction, it will likely be denied. If that happens, you may be disqualified from filing further expunction petitions for that case. This is why it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, as they know how to present your case for expunction clearly and effectively.
If your petition is granted, all records relating to the arrest will be deleted or destroyed.
Can I Have My Criminal Record Sealed Under Texas Law?
Texas law allows people who pleaded guilty or no contest and then completed deferred adjudication to apply to have their case records sealed. They must, however, have received a discharge and dismissal of their probation. First-time misdemeanors dismissed and discharged after August 31, 2017, should be automatically given an Order of Non-Disclosure six months after the applicant was placed on deferred adjudication.
Most misdemeanors can be sealed as soon as the applicant completes deferred adjudication or serves their sentence. In cases of more serious misdemeanors, however, they may have to wait until two years after completion of deferred adjudication.
Those charged with a felony offense must wait five years after they have completed deferred adjudication. After five years, they may apply to have their record sealed.
Some crimes, however, can not only not be sealed, but they also can preclude you from having any records sealed. These include:
- Some DWI offenses
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Sex offenses
- Family violence
How to Seal a Criminal Record in Austin, Texas
Obtaining an Order of Non-Disclosure is similar to the process of an expunction petition. You must file the petition or motion for non-disclosure in the same court that originally heard your case. Once you have filed, you will receive a hearing date.
Your criminal defense attorney may be present to represent you at this hearing and argue in favor of granting the non-disclosure. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court will decide whether to grant the order.
It is important to note that judges are not required to grant a non-disclosure order. They can deny the petition if they believe justice would not be served by granting the order. This is a major way in which non-disclosure differs from expunction. With expungement in Texas, you either meet or do not meet the requirements. Non-disclosure, on the other hand, is discretionary.
This is one of the main reasons why choosing a criminal defense attorney with experience obtaining non-disclosure orders for their clients is important. The lawyers at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C. have helped many clients obtain Orders of Non-Disclosure, so we know what it takes to put forward strong cases for our clients.
If I Plead Guilty, Can I Receive an Expunction of My Record?
Those who are ultimately convicted of a crime are generally ineligible for expunction, whether the conviction resulted from a guilty plea, a no contest plea, or a trial. In Texas, a no contest plea has the same impact as a guilty plea. Unless you receive a pardon from the governor of Texas or the president of the United States, you will not be able to expunge your record.
The one other exception to this rule is that you may be eligible for expunction if you were convicted of an Unlawful Carrying Weapons (UCW) offense before September 1, 2021.
Contact Our Expunction Lawyers Today to See If You’re Eligible
Having charges on your criminal record can have serious long-term repercussions. Fortunately, an expungement or a non-disclosure order can allow you to clean the slate and move past certain mistakes you may have made. If successful, the process can remove the stigma of a criminal record, which can give you immense relief. You can also access better jobs, housing, and educational opportunities because background checks will not disclose the arrest or charge. Furthermore, you can have peace of mind knowing that friends, family, or colleagues will never discover your history through a background check.
An experienced Austin expunction attorney at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C. understands how life-changing an expunction or a record sealing can be for those who have had criminal charges brought against them. We are passionate about helping people in our community move forward in their lives and get the fresh starts they deserve. We pride ourselves on total commitment to our clients and valuing people over profits. This principle has driven our success with thousands of cases over the last 50 years.
To find out if you could be eligible for expunction or non-disclosure, contact the team at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C. today, online or by phone.