Sealing criminal records in Texas means different things to lawyers, clients, and the general public. It’s also important to keep in mind that all “record sealing” isn’t the same. Why would someone want to have their record sealed? Well, it may be an issue with job hunting and your Texas criminal record, applying to rent a better apartment, and the potential for that embarrassing information being available on the internet. Having a criminal record can be a heavy cost on your life. Luckily, there are ways to get it put behind you. I realize that money doesn’t grow on trees (at least I haven’t found one yet). I try to make it affordable for my clients. Here is something to consider in terms of Costs of having your record sealed.
First, let me start off by saying that it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at your criminal record. You can’t “buy” yourself an Expunction in Texas. What matters most is how your case was finalized. Was it dismissed? Did you receive a Deferred Adjudication or a Straight Probation? Were you No-Billed by a Grand Jury?
1. Expunction – The first type of sealing criminal records in Texas is what’s called an Expunction. Maybe you’ve heard of the term having your record “expunged.” An Expunction is the most ideal form of having your record sealed. When a record is expunged, you can deny that the entire arrested and/or criminal charge ever occurred – except if you testify during a trial. Depending on the level of the crime (misdemeanor or felony) there will be different waiting periods for when you can ask the Court for an Expunction. If your crime was a Class C Misdemeanor, special parts of the law may apply for you to get these off your record earlier than usual. Examples of Texas Class C Misdemeanors can be found here. This means that you would be able to put it behind you sooner. Check out How to Seal a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas.
2. Non-Disclosure – The second type of sealing criminal records in Texas is what’s called a Non-Disclosure. Although a Non-Disclosure isn’t as ideal as having your record expunged, it does help to keep your criminal history private. I generally like to think of Non-Disclosures as a “veil” between the public and your criminal record that only certain people or groups can look behind. Most of the time, these groups are police departments, state agencies, and federal agencies.
Not all records are eligible for and Expunction or Non-Disclosure. Depending on how your case was handled, you may be eligible for one or the other, or neither. It’s important to put the past behind you and move forward with your life. If your criminal record is holding you back, it is well worth exploring your options of sealing your criminal records in Texas.
Assuming that there is no opposition filed to your request to have your record sealed, it will probably take about 6 months. I know that this can feel like an eternity. Maybe you have a graduation or a job hunt coming up. You’re stressed that it will come up on the interview. At that point, your best option is to plan your responses to those uncomfortable questions. Show the manager or interviewer that you’ve moved on since then. In the meantime, we can get the paperwork started to move things forward.