A blemish on your criminal record - even from the distant past - can make your life very difficult - impeding you from securing a good job or obtaining an apartment lease, just to name a few examples. The relative ease by which background checks can be obtained today make them an all too frequent part of many common transactions- creating a sometimes insurmountable hurdle for people with a tarnished criminal record.
Under certain circumstances, Texas law allows for the destruction, or "expunction," of criminal records. Getting a criminal record expunged involves the filing of a petition of expunction in the court that originally handled the matter.
Generally speaking, in order to be eligible for an expunction of criminal records, your criminal charges must have been dismissed, or you must have been awarded a not guilty verdict after trial. Although many people believe a successfully served deferred adjudication probation can be expunged, this is not the case (with the possible exception of certain class C misdemeanor offenses.) In this scenario, a petition for non-disclosure would be the appropriate action.
Records that are erased by an expunction order may include those of the arresting agency, the Department of Public Safety, the court of prosecution, and the prosecutor's office. After the expunction order is entered, the person can deny the occurrence of the arrest, the offense, and the existence of the expunction order.
With the advent of technology and the connectivity provided by the internet, criminal background checks and arrest records are increasingly simple to acquire. Many online services facilitate the process and can prevent you from getting the employment you want or the continuing education you need.
It is important to take the necessary steps to prevent any potential damage to your career, community standing and to your family.
In some cases, you may be eligible to have your criminal record completely expunged. If this option is not available to you, recent changes in Texas law have created a provision for the sealing, or "Non-disclosure," of your criminal record information.
The ability to conceal this information from the public eye can be very beneficial to those burdened by an unfortunate mistake that lies in the past. If you are granted an Order of Non-disclosure by the Court, your record will still exist, but it will only be visible to law enforcement agencies.
A Non-disclosure Order allows you to completely deny the occurrence of your arrest and prosecution giving you the opportunity to freely pursue employment, education, and other opportunities that may have previously been unavailable to you because of your arrest record.
It is important to remember, however, that although kept from the public, your record may still be used against you during any future criminal proceedings by law enforcement authorities and the courts.
Eligibility for Orders of Non-Disclosure
If you have received deferred adjudication probation for certain misdemeanor or felony level offenses and you have successfully completed your probation term, you may be eligible for Non-disclosure record sealing. You must not have not been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any offense other than a traffic offense punishable by fine only since your probation ended in order to qualify. The requirements vary from the misdemeanor to the felony level, and there are many felony offense convictions that are not eligible for non-disclosure.
Please contact the Gilligan Law Firm, L.L.P to schedule a FREE consultation at (713) 529-9200.