Non-Disclosure and Expunctions in Texas
This blog is not to be considered legal advice. It refers specifically to issues regarding the law of the State of Texas at the time it was written and it is not guaranteed to be an exhaustive update of all Criminal Non-Disclosue and Expunction law.
In Texas we have an adult criminal justice system as well as a juvenile criminal justice system. For adults, there are two avenues for cleaning up criminal records that are available under certain circumstances. As with most things, there are a number of factors that go into whether an individual is eligible for either an expunction or non-disclosure. Generally speaking, however, non-disclosure is a process by where certain portions of an individual’s criminal history can be sealed, preventing the records from being disclosed to the public. An expunction, on the other hand, can allow an individual to permanently remove an event from his or her criminal history.
Non-disclosure and expunction procedures for adults in Texas are not available for most convictions but there are circumstances when an individual will qualify for them. Many employers and organizations require background checks and these tools can be helpful in keeping your record as clean as possible.
In Texas, non-disclosure provides some individuals who successfully satisfy the requirements of deferred adjudication a way of having those records sealed, preventing them from being disclosed to the public. The record will not be destroyed, and there are a number of agencies that will still have access to it, but non-disclosure can help prevent the record from showing up on public background checks. Some of the agencies that will still have access to the record include police departments, county sheriffs’ departments, other law enforcement agencies, public and private schools, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), the state boards for law and medical examiners, and a number of other agencies.
There are a number of offenses that are exempt from non-disclosure. Most are for violent offenses, including sex crimes, murder, family violence, and others. If a person has ever been convicted of one of these excluded offenses then he or she is not eligible to file for a non-disclosure.
Expunctions allow an individual to have their record cleaned in some specific circumstances including, but not limited to, situations where a person was arrested but the case was never filed, cases that were dismissed, and cases in which an individual was found to be not guilty at trial . Expunctions are granted in narrow circumstances and, unlike non-disclosures, they are not available for individuals who have completed deferred adjudication.
Expunctions are a powerful tool. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 55.03 states that following a final order of expunction, a “...person arrested may deny the occurrence of the arrest and the existence of the expunction order…” The only exception to this being that, “...when questioned under oath in a criminal proceeding about an arrest for which the records have been expunged, [the person] may state only that the matter in question has been expunged…” TX. CRIM. PRO. Art. 22.04.
Additionally, there are various waiting periods that must pass before a Petition for Non-Disclosure or a Petition for Expunction can be filed filed with a Court. As with any issue, non-disclosures and expunctions can be fact specific, if you have any questions regarding a non-disclosures or expunctions, give me a call today at (817) 475-5522.