Most people do not realize that they still have an arrest record even if their charges were dismissed, or they were found not guilty by a judge or jury. Your criminal background stays in public records. This can limit your educational, professional, and personal opportunities. A board-certified criminal defense lawyer can seek what are called expunctions and non-disclosure orders in Texas to give you a second chance in your professional and personal aspirations.
Understanding the Difference Between Expunction and Non-Disclosure Orders
An expunction (also called an expungement) will wipe your arrest record clean. Simply put, an expunction is the complete destruction of paper and digital records of your arrest and related court documents. There will be no trace of your prior criminal activity. A criminal defense lawyer in Texas can formally request an expunction if you qualify.
A non-disclosure order is known informally as record sealing. While it does not remove your arrest record, it restricts access to authorized users only. A non-disclosure order will prevent potential employers, landlords, or a college admission board from discriminating against you for prior criminal behavior.
Parties That Can Apply for Expunction in Texas
Texas law makes a distinction between people who are entitled to expunction and those who are eligible for expunction.
If you are entitled to expunction, you were:
- Acquitted of the crime with which you were charged; or
- Convicted of the crime with which you were charged but later found to be innocent; or
- Convicted but later pardoned; or
- Charged with a crime but the case was dismissed, and the statute of limitations has expired; or
- Arrested but never charged and the corresponding waiting period has expired.
To be considered eligible for expunction, you must:
- Have been tried and convicted at trial but later acquitted by a court; and
- Be recommended for expunction by the prosecuting attorney
You may qualify for an expunction for both misdemeanor and felony-level crimes. A criminal defense lawyer can tell you if you are entitled or eligible for expunction.
When You May Not Qualify for Expunction in Texas
An expunction gives you the opportunity to start fresh and to keep a clean record. However, some people or their criminal records do not qualify for this second chance. In certain circumstances, the court can deny expunction in Texas. These circumstances may include:
- Adults who received deferred adjudication
- Adult offenders who received probation
- People who do not follow bail regulations (also known as jumping bail)
- Adults convicted of a felony within five years of the date of arrest
- People with a dismissed felony charge that has not yet expired according to its respective statute of limitations
You may also be denied for expunction if the offense you want to be expunged is part of a criminal episode and you face charges for a different crime. The Texas penal code is complex. The best way to find out if you qualify for an expunction is to call a criminal defense lawyer who handles these matters.
A Non-Disclosure Order Will Protect Your Privacy
It is possible that even if you do not qualify for expunction, a criminal defense lawyer may seek a non-disclosure order. A non-disclosure record will keep your arrest record from key figures in your professional and personal life. For example, a non-disclosure order will prevent a prospective employer from seeing your arrest record.
If the court grants a non-disclosure order, your records are sealed from view for all but law enforcement and other authorized viewers. Although less permanent and comprehensive than an expunction, a non-disclosure order gives you the opportunity to start anew.
Finding a Lawyer for Expunctions and Non-Disclosure Orders in Texas
Not all law firms accept expunction and non-disclosure order cases. The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg has experience with expunctions and non-disclosure orders. You are invited to call our office to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.
Our firm focuses on clients who need criminal defense representation. Attorney Randall B. Isenberg is a board-certified criminal defense lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a former chief prosecutor and state district judge with thirty years of legal experience in Texas. Randall is a recognized Criminal Defense Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg offers legal representation in many practice areas, including:
- Felony DWI
- DWI defense
- Drug possession crimes
- ALR hearings
- Weapons offenses
- Sex crimes
- Murder and assault
- Family violence
- Probation violations
- DWI marijuana
For a free legal consultation, call (214) 696-9253
You Deserve a Second Chance
An expunction or non-disclosure order is an opportunity for you to move forward into a law-abiding and productive life. To find out if you qualify for an expunction or non-disclosure order in Texas, please call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg at (214) 696-9253. Our firm is happy to schedule a free and confidential consultation.