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Texas Expunction and Non-Disclosure Orders: How to Remove Convictions From Your Criminal Record
The one legal question I get asked most often is, “How can I remove a conviction from my record?” In most cases, the person asking worried that a prior conviction would prevent them from getting a job. Others worried that they would be unable to receive much-needed state benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid.
Luckily, Texas law does provide a mechanism with which you can permanently remove information about an arrest, charge, or conviction from your records. This mechanism is called an expunction. Alternatively, if you don’t qualify for an expunction, you can seek a limitation on the accessibility of your records by requesting a non-disclosure order. The following is an overview of each of these options.
Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure governs the expunction of criminal records. Under Article 55.01, the following records are eligible for expunction:
- Conviction for a crime that was pardoned
- Conviction for a crime that was acquitted by a trial court or the Criminal Court of Appeals
- An arrest for a crime that was never charged
- A criminal charge that was dismissed (if the charge was a felony, you must wait until after the statute of limitations for that crime has passed before applying to have it expunged)
- An arrest, charge, or conviction on an individual’s record due to identity theft by another person
- A misdemeanor punishable by fine committed by a person under age 17
- Most offenses committed by a minor
- An offense committed by a minor under the Alcoholic Beverage Code
- Conviction for failure to attend school
Limitations: If the record you are seeking to expunge is eligible, the Court will NOT grant expunction if one or more of the following situations has occur:
- You received deferred adjudication or probation for the crime
- You were convicted of a felony within five years of the arrest you are seeking to have expunged
- The offense is part of a “criminal episode”
How to apply: You need an attorney to apply for expunction.The attorney will first prepare and file a Petition for Expunction with the proper court. After the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing and send notice to you and all the agencies that may have the record on file. If the court grants the expunction, the judge will submit an Order of Expunction to the applicable agencies who will then either delete the record from their files, or return the record to the county clerk for removal.
Texas Non-Disclosure Order
Since most convictions cannot be “expunged” (removed) from your record, Texas law provides the option of limiting the accessibility of your record by certain private parties. This is called a non-disclosure order. Under TX Government Code §411.081, a non-disclosure order is available if an individual has successfully completed deferred adjudication or probation for a crime.
Limitations: Like an expunction, you must wait until the statute of limitations for the crime has passed before applying for a non-disclosure order. Furthermore, you must not be convicted of any offenses during the waiting period. Convictions for certain serious crimes such as domestic violence, sex offenses, and murder are not eligible for non-disclosure.
How to apply: You will need an attorney to apply for an Order of Non-Disclosure. The attorney will file a petition with the court that originally heard the case. The court will hold a hearing during which the judge has discretion to either approve or deny your request.
The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice. The information provided is not intended to create, and viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
Texas Fresh Start
- Texas Fresh Start - Expunction and Non-Disclosure Legal Self Help
TexasFreshStart can supply you with the needed documents, instructions and information to prepare your court packet yourself or we can professionally prepare your court packet for you.
Texas Department of Public Safety: Criminal Records Service
- TxDPS - Criminal History Records
Overview of expunctions and non-disclosure orders. Obtain a copy of your criminal record and get help with applying.
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