Getting arrested can be terrifying, especially if you’ve never had any brush with the law. However, an arrest does not mean the end of the line or that it will be on your record forever. There are options ; Depending on the nature of the charge, the time since the incident, and the age at which you committed the crime you may qualify for either an expunction or order of nondisclosure .
Expunction - erasure of a criminal record
Who and what is eligible?
Although convictions cannot generally be erased from your record, Texas law allows for information about arrests and charges to be erased under certain circumstances. If acquitted in trial or where a case is dismissed following an arrest, individuals can have their records sealed. Similarly, if arrested but no charges are filed, you can have the arrest stricken from your record.
Although rare, a close relative of a deceased person may also apply for an expunction of that individual’s record.
What happens next?
To file for expungement, you should seek the help of an attorney, as the process is detailed and can be a little complicated. The petition needs to be filed in the county where you were arrested. The court will then send notice to all agencies and schedule a hearing. As long as the expungement meets all the requirements, it will likely be granted. The judge will sign an Order of Expunction which is filed with the clerk, who then notifies all agencies who might have a record of the arrest.
If your record has been expunged, that means that your criminal record will not appear on a background check, and neither will the expungement be exposed.
However, if a full expungement cannot be granted, it may be possible to obtain an Order for Nondisclosure. This limits access to your records, but does not destroy them; essentially, they are removed from public records. They will remain accessible to government agencies and may be made available for certain court procedures.
Both expunctions and nondisclosures may have a waiting period before you can file the request. That depends on the level of offense and the reasons why you are seeking relief. It is important to note that persons who have been charged with violent crimes will likely not be able to obtain such an order.
Read more detailed information on the Texas Bar webpage, as well as find sample application forms. Also, for a free guide that will help you decide if you qualify for relief please download our free checklists:
Check out this video to understand the requirements for Expunction: