Expungement in Texas: Clear Your Criminal Record
Criminal records have damaging consequences. The records of an arrest and subsequent prosecution, even if the charge was eventually dismissed, can negatively impact job opportunities, student aid, loan applications, international travel, gun ownership, and much more.
The only way to delete a criminal record in Texas is through an expunction. Expunction eligibility is limited, and based on a number of factors. If a charge is not eligible for expunction, it may qualify for an order of nondisclosure, which has the effect of sealing the record.
- What is expunction in Texas? An expunction is a court order to delete and destroy all records of a criminal charge, including records of the arrest and subsequent prosecution. After an expunction has been ordered and effected, a person may legally deny the occurrence of the underlying incident.
- What is a petition for nondisclosure in Texas? A petition for order of nondisclosure is the next-best-thing to an expunction. A nondisclosure is an order to seal the records of a criminal arrest and prosecution. While the record is sealed and inaccessible to private sector entities, government agencies and law enforcement will still have access to the records.
Who Qualifies for an Expunction?
Dismissed charges are expunction eligible. If a person is found not guilty and acquitted at trial the charge is also eligible. Charges dismissed after completing probation are not eligible for expunction, unless the charge was a Class C Misdemeanor.
- Can a felony be removed from your record in Texas? Yes. Felony charges that have been dismissed will generally be eligible for expunction.
- What crimes can be expunged in Texas? Any type of criminal charge can be expunged in Texas, if the details of the dismissal meet qualifying factors.
Who Qualifies for a Nondisclosure?
Generally, charges dismissed after completing probation through deferred adjudication are eligible to be sealed with a petition of nondisclosure. Some final convictions, like DWI, may be sealed as well. Learn more.
- Can police see expunged records in Texas? No. Police cannot see expunged records. However, law enforcement and government agencies may still access records that have been sealed through nondisclosure.
- Can a deferred adjudication be removed from my record? Yes. A charge for which Deferred adjudication was granted can be expunged, if the charge was a Class C Misdemeanor. Learn more.
What is the Waiting Period for Expunction?
There is no waiting period to expunge a charge after acquittal at trial, or if the charge is dismissed after successful completion of a pre-trial or speciality court program. If a person is convicted, but later pardoned, an expunction may be immediately filed as well.
- Class C Misdemeanor – 6 months from date of offense.
- Class A or B Misdemeanor – 1 year from date of offense.
- Felonies – 3 years from the date of offense.
The waiting period may be waived if the State attorney determines the records are no longer needed, and agrees to an early expunction.
What if I am not eligible for an Expunction?
The best option is to obtain an order of nondisclosure. Unlike an expunction, an order of nondisclosure is available after successfully completing deferred adjudication.
An order on nondisclosure prevents law enforcement agencies, jails, court clerks, and other public information agencies from releasing arrest information to private third parties. However, the arrest information may also be revealed in the case of subsequent criminal prosecutions.
You will be eligible for this Order immediately upon completion of your deferred adjudication requirements if the crime did not Offenses involving sex, guns or violence have a five year waiting period. Orders of nondisclosure are not available for kidnapping offenses, sex crimes, abandonment or endangerment of a child, injury to a child, the elderly or disabled, violation of a protective order, stalking or crimes involving family violence.
- How far back does a background check go? All the way. There’s no legal limit to how far back in time an employer can search a criminal record in Texas. There is also no limit on how old a prior offense can be for enhancement purposes in a subsequent prosecution.
Example: if you received a DWI conviction in 1980, your next DWI charge will be enhanced to a DWI 2nd Offense.
- How long does a felony stay on record in Texas? Forever. There is no period of time after which a criminal charge or conviction is removed from the record in Texas. That is why it’s critical to expunge or seal everything that is eligible for an expunction or nondisclosure.
How Long Does Expungement Take in Texas?
Expunction – Once a petition for expunction is filed, it takes approximately six to eight weeks for the court to rule on it. If granted, the clerk of the court must then send a certified court order instructing all city, state and federal agencies to destroy all records of the incident. This can take up to six months.
Order of Nondisclosure – Once a petition for nondisclosure is filed, it takes approximately six to eight weeks for the court to rule on it. If granted, the clerk of the court must then send a certified letter to the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) indicating the existence of the Order. TXDPS then must send letters to other government agencies and repositories that might have records of the arrest. This can take up to six months.
- How much does it cost to expunge in Texas? The filing fees are typically hundreds of dollars. Different jurisdictions have different fees associated with copies and notices. While many law firms and businesses offer discount rates for “Easy Expunctions” it is important to remember that you typically get what you pay for. Mistakes cost time and money, and can further damage one’s record.
How to Expunge Record in Texas?
The first step in clearing a criminal record is determining eligibility for either an expunction or nondisclosure. It is important to note that a criminal charge will not be eligible for both.
- Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 55 governs the expunction of criminal records. This chapter outlines who is eligible for and has a right to an expunction.
- Texas Government Code, Chapter 411, Subchapter E-1 governs nondisclosure orders. In this subchapter you will find the laws that explain who is eligible for an order of nondisclosure.
- Texas Family Code, Chapter 58 governs the sealing of juvenile records. Section 58.203 also outlines what requirements must be met in order for certain juvenile records to be automatically restricted.
A petition for expunction or nondisclosure is filed with the appropriate court and clerk. Because the criminal matter for which the relief is being sought has been closed, the person seeking the expunction or nondisclosure is not required to attend court proceedings with counsel. Trey Porter Law strives to make the process convenient and efficient for our clients.
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Trey Porter is a dynamic advocate, nationally recognized for his work in DWI Defense. He has been voted by his peers as a best lawyer in the field of Criminal and DWI Defense every year since 2015. Recognized by SuperLawyers, Mr. Porter has also been distinguished as a Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Defense Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Porter holds a Superb rating from AVVO, where attorneys are rated based on skillful litigation, client satisfaction, peer endorsements, and positive results. Learn more.
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I recently hired Trey Porter Law to help our teenage daughter with a drug charge. In the state of Texas she was being charged as an adult which carried a much stiffer penalty. Trey is very responsive, helpful, knowledgeable and is always available to answer any questions or concerns via phone, text or email. He was able to negotiate on her behalf so it was a pleasant experience. I would highly recommend Trey Porter Law.
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He was prompt, professional and poised. I was charged with DWI, and Mr Porter got the charge dismissed. I could not be more pleased or thankful. If you get a DWI, hire the best — hire Trey Porter.
WE FIGHT FOR DISMISSAL
WE FIGHT FOR DISMISSAL
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
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