Getting arrested doesn’t have to tarnish your life forever. With the right attorney you can eventually clear or seal the record of your arrest and subsequent prosecution.
Some people think that their record will go away on its own under some circumstances, or after a certain waiting period. Unfortunately, this is not the case. You must petition the court to get an expunction or a nondisclosure. You may need an attorney, as this process can be very complex.
In Texas, two ways of having your record cleared or sealed are known as expunctions and orders of nondisclosure. An expunction completely erases the criminal record for a particular arrest and allegation. An order of nondisclosure or “record sealing” protects you from the general public, but the government and law enforcement agencies will still have the information regarding your past arrest.
Qualifying for Expunctions:
To be eligible for an expunction, or complete clearing of your criminal record for any single allegation, you must have been found innocent, or the charges against you must have been dismissed.
Qualifying for Nondisclosures:
To be eligible for a nondisclosure, at minimum, you must not have been convicted of the crime you are seeking to seal. This means you may have plead guilty or no contest, but were given “deferred adjudication” probation instead of ordinary probation. Deferred adjudication literally means that a judge holds back from finding you guilty, or “defers a finding of guilt” while waiting for you to complete your probation. And once you successfully complete it, the judge enters “NAOG” on your record – which means “No Adjudication of Guilt.”
What’s the difference?
Expunction – Total Erasure
In Texas, anyone found innocent is entitled to an expunction (“clearing”) of the criminal record associated with that allegation, including erasing the record of arrest for that allegation.
If you were arrested but charges were never filed, or they were dismissed, you can also have that record expunged once the statute of limitations has been exhausted, under certain conditions.
The statute of limitations means that if charges against you were never filed or were dropped, but you weren’t given a final judgment of innocence (i.e., found innocent at trial), there may be a waiting period before you can request an expunction. If no charges were ever brought again within the time period of that statute of limitations, or even if they were but you were never convicted, you can get an expunction.
The advantage of expunction is that you may legally deny that you were ever arrested for that crime. When your record is expunged, the judge orders all governmental agencies to completely erase your record for that allegation. Even some law enforcement or government agencies may not use it against you if they somehow still have a record of your arrest.
Nondisclosures or Record Sealing
If you do not qualify for a complete expunction, you may still qualify for an order of nondisclosure – or “having your record sealed.” The main difference between expunctions and nondisclosure orders is that all governmental agencies will still have the ability and right to see your criminal record. Private employers, apartments, banks and the public will not.
Who is Never Eligible for Nondisclosures?
The bottom line is that if you were found guilty, you are not eligible to seal that record. Your only avenue would be a pardon, which is a little more burdensome and involved than the courts.
Certain crimes will always carry a conviction if you plead guilty, and are never going to be eligible for deferred adjudication probation. Other crimes are eligible for deferred, but you usually have to have a good attorney to get deferred ordered by the judge when you plead to the charge.
Call Ric Barrera with The Barrera Law Firm, PC at 956 428 2822 now to find out if you qualify for an expunction or a nondisclosure, or for help with your pending criminal case.