If you have a criminal record, you may have very legitimate concerns that its negative effects could follow you throughout your life. Background checks can reveal your criminal records to neighbors, employers, potential landlords, friends, college admissions officers, and more. Even a few minutes of searching online can bring forth records that may cause people to view you in a negative light.
This is true even if your case was dismissed, you went through deferred adjudication probation, or you were not found guilty. Don’t think a dismissal, finishing probation, or an acquittal means that your case disappears from public records. It doesn’t. The arrest will come up on background checks and could appear in any online search someone performs.
Criminal records negatively impact employment opportunities
As a result, if you are applying for a job, employers may not even interview you. A landlord may decline to rent you an apartment. Neighbors and friends may not give you the benefit of the doubt. It could affect college admissions, applications if you ever want to adopt a child, and more, even if you never did anything wrong or have long paid your debt to society.
If there any way to remove these negative consequences? There are two possibilities under Texas law: 1) expungement of records and 2) sealing of records.
Expungement of Criminal Records in the State of Texas
Expungement in general means erasing the record.
It’s possible to receive expungement of your record under several scenarios given Texas law. Expungement is referred to under the Code of Criminal Procedure as expunction. You may receive expunction if:
- You were arrested but not charged
- Your case was dismissed
- You were acquitted in a trial
- You completed diversion pre-trial
- You were pardoned after conviction
Expunction does not happen automatically. In the above cases, you may be eligible for expunction. But a court order to have arrest records eliminated must be obtained before expunction can occur.
If you do receive expunction, Texas law allows you to answer “no” if applications for employment or other types of applications ask if you have ever been arrested.
Sealing of Records in the State of Texas
If you were arrested, pled guilty, and went through deferred adjudication probation, you may be eligible for nondisclosure of your records. “Nondisclosure” is the term the state uses for sealing your records from inquiries arising from the public.
Under nondisclosure, law enforcement and departments dealing with state licenses will continue to be able to see your records. They are sealed from the general public only.
How a Texas Criminal Lawyer Can Help Expunge or Seal Your Records
Issues, rules, and regulations about expungement and sealing criminal records are very complex in Texas. It is highly advisable to hire a seasoned attorney to discuss these matters if you have a criminal record of any type, whether an arrest, dismissal, acquittal, conviction, or other outcome.
Dallas criminal defense attorney Jeff King can help you understand your rights in relation to the law. We represent people throughout the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Call today to arrange a free case review.
More information on sealing or expunging your record in Texas:
- Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Chapter 55. Expunction of Criminal Records. http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CR/htm/CR.55.htm.
- Texas Government Code. Title 4. Executive Branch. Subtitle B. Law Enforcement and Public Protection. Chapter 411. Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas. Subchapter E-1. Order of Nondisclosure of Criminal History Record Information. http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/GV/htm/GV.411.htm#411.071