Sealing Criminal Records in Texas – Expunctions
In a previous post I wrote about the two types of record sealing in Texas. In that post, I explained how there are expunctions and non-disclosures. That post dealt more with non-disclosures. Non-disclosures are available much more often than expunctions. Sealing criminal records in Texas can be a bit tricky if you don’t know the steps involved.
The best form of record sealing is an expunction. With an expunction, your file is literally shredded. Expunctions are available when your criminal case ends in certain ways. The final outcome is very important. This will determine whether you are eligible for a non-disclosure, expunction, or neither. You can’t just pay more money to request an expunction with the Court. That’s not how it works.
Let’s dig in. First, someone is eligible for an expunction if they were:
- Arrested and later not charged with a crime.
- Your case was dismissed.
- If your case was a felony, the Grand Jury “No-Billed” your case. (This means you weren’t formally charged with the felony.)
- You successfully finished your deferred adjudication on a Class C misdemeanor – ex. Public intoxication, Minor in Possession, Minor in Consumption etc…
The basic idea here is that you weren’t convicted of a crime AND you weren’t given a deferred adjudication.
Requesting an Expunction
In the legal system, when you want to request an expunction, you file what is called a Petition for Expunction. This is the formal document that is filed with the Court. You will have to pay your filing fees to the Clerk. In the Petition, you have to give your basic biographical information (Name, date of birth, date of arrest, Social Security Number etc…). Next you have to give details about your arrest, the type of charge against you, and the final outcome of the case. Depending on whether your charge was a Misdemeanor or Felony, you have to wait certain periods of time longer. The waiting time from the date of arrest generally is:
- 6 months for a Class C Misdemeanor;
- 1 year for a Class A or B Misdemeanor; and
- 3 years for a Felony.
Next, you’ll have to list all the State agencies which would have a record of your arrest. Notices will be sent to these agencies by the Clerk and they may oppose your Petition. These may include:
- County Sheriff/City Police
- County Jail
- County/District Clerk
- Probation Department
- Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- FBI National Database.
Prepare your Order for Expunction
Similar to the Petition for Expunction and the details above, the Order for Expunction will include almost the identical details. Once you file the copies of the Petition and the Order, Contact the Clerk or Court Administrator to set your case for a hearing in front of the Judge. Show up on your Court date with a copy of your Order for the Judge to sign.
After it’s all said and done.
Once your Petition for Expunction is signed by the Judge, there is a waiting period for the agencies to remove your criminal record from their database. After the information is removed you are able to deny that you’ve ever been arrested for a criminal offense (except if you’re testifying in Court).
These are the general steps to requesting an Expunction and having your record sealed in Texas. If you have any questions, feel free to call my office or send me an email to talk about your specific case.