Texas Expunction of Criminal Records
Michael Lowe is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Everyday I am asked whether someone is eligible to have their criminal records expunged in the state of Texas. The following is a summary of the laws in the state of Texas concerning expungement and the newer practice called Petition for Non-Disclosure.
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WHAT IS AN EXPUNCTION?
Upon the petition of a criminal defendant, a court can direct certain law enforcement agencies to destroy all records associated with an arrest and subsequent prosecution. Many times the court will specifically direct law enforcement agencies to destroy jail records, police reports, prosecution reports and court files. In addition, a successful expungement petitioner can legally deny ever having been arrested for or charged with the criminal offense for which he is receiving the expunction.
WHAT IS A PETITION FOR NONDISCLOSURE?
Upon the petition of a criminal defendant, a court can direct certain law enforcement agencies to refrain from disclosing to any third party any criminal records associated with an arrest, prosecution and deferred probation. A successful petitioner can legally deny the existence of his arrest, charge and deferred probation.
The order requires that any third party who buys criminal history information from Texas remove that information from their databases. If these third party vendors do not do so in accordance with the court’s order, they would be subject to civil penalties. Therefore, websites such as PublicData.com would be required by law to remove criminal history information subject to the court’s nondisclosure order or face civil penalties.
Expungement of Criminal Records
Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to expunge your criminal record under Texas law.
- Dismissed Case or Grand Jury No Bill
If a case was dismissed by the District Attorney’s office or No Billed by the Grand Jury, you may be eligible to expunge your records.
For felony offenses that were no billed by a Grand Jury (the Grand Jury refused to indict), the same rule applies. The limitations period for felonies ranges anywhere between five years and ten years. However, some felonies such as Murder do not carry a limitations period. Upon the expiration of the applicable limitations period, the felony case can be expunged.
- Exonerated Defendants
If after a trial on the merits of any criminal offense in Texas the judge or jury returns a not guilty verdict, you may be able to expunge your records.
- Class "C" Misdemeanors
If you have a Class "C" Misdemeanor on your record, you may be able to expunge it from your record.
Petitions for Nondisclosure of Criminal Records
Successful completion of deferred adjudication probation is the key to opening the door to a Petition for Nondisclosure. If you successfully completed deferred adjudication, you may be able to expunge your records.
What is deferred adjudication? There are two types of probation. Regular probation is a conviction in that the court actually finds the defendant guilty and suspends imposition of the jail sentence for a period of time. Under article 42.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a Texas Judge can alternatively place a defendant on probation for a period of time and DEFER any finding of guilt unless and until the defendant successful completes the probation. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the court will dismiss the case.
I hope the above will help you evaluate your potential success on your Petitions of Expunction and Petitions for Non-Disclosure.
– Michael Lowe
Dallas criminal defense attorney Michael Lowe is available to help individuals who would like a record seal or expungement. For a legal consultation, please take the "do-it-yourself eligibility test" on www.recordhelp.com first, and then you may call (214) 526-1900 or toll-free (866) 351-1900, to schedule an appointment to visit with criminal lawyer Michael Lowe.