NOTE: INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WILL NOT BE ACCURATE AS OF SEPTEMBER 1, 2015. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THIS UPDATE.
I often get asked “Can I get my Texas criminal record expunged?” And my answer is almost always: “It depends.”
Three factors go into determining whether a case can be expunged:
1. First, was your case dismissed outright, did you get acquitted at trial, or did you complete a plea-trial intervention? If your answer is “no,” then my answer is also “no.” Expunctions, strictly speaking, are only available in those limited circumstances.
2. Second, were you on deferred adjudication, did you finish it successfully, and has the statutory waiting period elapsed? If the answer to those questions is “no,” then my answer is also “no.” Petitions for nondisclosure, which is the alternative way in Texas to seal a record, are only available to people who successfully complete a period of deferred adjudication and wait for the statutorily prescribed waiting period to elapse.
3. Finally, if you were on deferred adjudication, and you successfully completed it, and the waiting period has elapsed, did your case involve a sexual or family violence offense? If the answer that that question is “yes,” then my answer is almost always “no.” Texas forbids orders for nondisclosure to be granted for certain offenses dealing with family violence or having a sexual component.
Unlike some other states (looking at you, Massachusetts), Texas doesn’t allow you to seal records involving out-right convictions. This means a person who does time, or does a period of straight probation, cannot seal his record. Perhaps some day this will change, but, in the meantime, if you have questions about expunctions or petitions for nondisclosure in Texas, please feel free to contact me; I’d be happy to chat with you about it.