The Criminal Record You Didn’t Know You Had… | Texas

The following is a video transcript.

Your Criminal Record Will Haunt You

Were you arrested for a crime, but never formally charged? Charged with a crime that was later dismissed? Arrested and charged for the crime, but you were subsequently found not guilty by a jury of your peers? Or, convicted of a crime but later pardoned? While you may have won your case, the hurdles down the road can be daunting. You might think you’re off the hook and can move forward with your life, but you are mistaken.

Why? Because you have a criminal record which could haunt you for the rest of your life. Criminal arrests and convictions can have severe consequences, regardless of the outcome of your case or arrest. While your charges may have disappeared, your record did not. Even if your case is subsequently dismissed or you’re acquitted, your record is still out there available to the public eye.

Law enforcement agencies and courts maintain records of all your arrests, charges, proceedings, and dispositions, and unfortunately, these records are public. And nowadays, with advancements in technology, your records aren’t just subject to those conducting criminal background checks. Your records are generally accessible by anyone who’s willing to pay a small fee or conduct a search on Google. Let’s discuss the ways to prevent the public from accessing your criminal record: expunctions and non-disclosures.

Expunctions Explained

What is an expunction? An “expunction” is an order by a court that permanently removes and destroys any information concerning an arrest, charge, or conviction from an individual’s record. When a record is “expunged”, all the information regarding the criminal event is erased from your record, giving you the ability to deny the event ever occurred. You can act like it never happened. There’s no record of it.

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Expunction Limitations

This sounds great, right? Why doesn’t everyone get an expunction after they’ve been arrested or charged with a crime? Well, expunctions aren’t available to everyone and are limited to particular situations. Most commonly, expunctions are available to those who have had their cases dismissed, been tried and acquitted of an offense, or convicted but subsequently pardoned.

Expunctions are not available to you if you’ve received deferred adjudication or probation, unless it’s a Class C misdemeanor; were convicted of a felony within five years of the arrest that you want expunged; or you have been convicted or charged with another offense arising out of the same “criminal episode” as the offense you wish to expunge.

Expunction Process

Once you’ve determined you’re eligible, you can begin the process of obtaining an expunction. First things, first: you need to file a petition of expunction. These petitions serve as a request to the court to issue an order of expunction. Filing a petition for expunction requires specific information. It can be tricky.

After your petition is filed, the court will most likely schedule a hearing to determine if you’re eligible for an expunction. If successful, the court will sign an order of expunction which will then be submitted to all public entities and organizations that file information pertaining to the expunged offense, and order them to delete or destroy such information.

When You’re Not Eligible…

If you’re not eligible for an expunction, that’s okay. You may still have another option available to you. Under Texas law, you may still qualify for what’s called an “Order of Nondisclosure,” a procedure that’s very similar to an expunction. In most cases, you’ll be eligible for an Order of Nondisclosure if you’ve received and successfully completed deferred adjudication. Like an expunction, an Order of Nondisclosure is an order from the court instructing specific organizations and agencies not to disclose certain aspects of your criminal record. However, unlike an expunction, an Order of Nondisclosure does not destroy or remove the information from your record, but instead seals or shields the information from the general public. Unfortunately, this means that government agencies and organizations still may have access to your information and can still keep copies. However, you can now legally avoid disclosure of the arrest or charge to friends, employers and other private citizens who don’t have access to these records.

If you have any questions concerning expunctions, non-disclosures, or anything else, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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Comment section

5 comments on “The Criminal Record You Didn’t Know You Had… | Texas

  1. I need to have several arrests records /dismissals / nobilled expunged. Can you please recommend a reputable agency or low cost legal service. I’m a member of texas law shield.
    Thanks

  2. How can we check our records to see what’s there?

  3. Folks,
    I think you should be aware that any item that is in a criminal justice system computer overnight is backed up. The backup tapes/media are NOT changed just because the court order your record cleared. I used to be system and database administrator for the Phoenix PD. It was such a problem that we had to set up a second database that contained the “expunged” records. If a record check came back positive, we ran a second check against the expunged database to see if we could tell anyone about the hit. The reason this matters is that if the law changes next year, your records are still in the system. We kept our records for 7 years before sending them off for long term storage. While checking those records could be done, it would not be fast or expensive but given enough reason, yes you could find them.
    The same type of backups are done for our firearm background checks as well. The federal registry exists the moment the politicians decide to pull the data back into the system. Every system administrator who is worth his paycheck makes backups. (old data guru saying:”Blessed are the pessimist for they hath made backups!”) Your data kept for no more than 30 days? Yeah, sure, believe that if it helps you sleep at night but be aware that once data has been backed up, it never goes away.

  4. If I had a bad past where I got in trouble at age 18 for a Felony Crime first and only offence and was put on deferred adjudication and completed my probation successfully can I own a gun? its been 25Years Since this Crime and I have been a law abiding citizen since.

  5. US and Texas Law Shield referred me to an attorney. We got a 50 year old Deferred Adjudication expunged.

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