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How to Remove Your Texas Criminal Record

May 07, 2016

Clearing Your Texas Criminal Record

Logo HMost everyone, at some point, has made a bad mistake or has been in the wrong place at the wrong time resulting in trouble. Unfortunately for some, this can result in an arrest, charge or criminal conviction. While most convictions cannot be removed from a person’s record, Texas law does allow individuals to remove or seal information about an arrest, charge or conviction from their permanent records in certain circumstances by filing an expunction or a non-disclosure. 


Individuals are either eligible to have their record removed or sealed through only one of these Texas statutes, but typically not both.   Each of these Texas statutes have specific requirements that you one must satisfy before elgibile to erase or seal their criminal record.

Texas Expungements

An expunction is the removal or destruction of all information related to an arrest and accompanying criminal case.  Furthermore, once a case is expunged you can deny the incident ever occurred and are not required to disclose any information related to the offense to anyone, including future employers. 

The Texas Expungement Statute contained in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure which specifically outlines the requirements and procedures to expunge Texas Criminal Records.  Typically, eligibility for a Texas Expunction is very limited to a very narrow set of circumstances outlined below.

Eligibility Requirements for Expungements

You are eligible to expunge your Texas criminal case if you meet one or more of the following requirements.

  • You are tried and acquitted by a judge or a jury (found not guilty); or
  • You receive a pardon from the Governor; or
  • You were arrested for an offense but the case was never filed or was “no-billed” by the grand jury.  If so, you must meet the following requirement before you can expunge your arrest.
    • You were not arrested, charged, and eventually convicted or placed on probation for any other offense related to the offense that was dismissed (This includes Class C Misdemeanor cases were an individual successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication); and
    • The applicable waiting period has expired.
      • Waiting Period to Expunge Record
        • The statute of Limitations has expired; OR
        • You were arrested for a Class C misdemeanor and it has been at least 180 days since
          the arrest; OR
        • You were for a Class A or B misdemeanor and it has been at least one year
          since the arrest; OR
        • You were arrested for a felony and It has been at least three years since the arrest. 
  • You were arrested for an offense that was later dismissed.  If so, you must meet the following requirement before you can expunge your offense.
    • You were not arrested, charged, and eventually convicted or placed on probation for any other offense related to the offense that was dismissed (This includes Class C Misdemeanor cases were an individual successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication); and  
    • You were not convicted of the offense; and
    • You were not placed on any type of probation for the offense or any related offense;
    • The case is no longer pending; and
    • You did not abscond or jump bail after you were arrested for the offense; and
    • The Applicable Waiting Period has expired.
      • Applicable Waiting Periods.
        • Statute of Limitations for the offense has expired.  This includes any tolling period while the case was pending in court.  has run
          (See Article 12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure for a complete list of the Statute if Limitations for all felonies. The Statute of Limitations for all misdemeanors is two years. The Statute of Limitations begins on the date of the alleged offense. Certain conditions may temporarily stop the Statute of Limitations.)
      • No Waiting Period.
        • Your case was dismissed after you completed an authorized pre-trial diversion program.
        • Your case was dismissed due to mistake, false information, or other similar reason indicating absence of probable cause to believe you committed the offense or because the indictment or information was void.
        • Your Class C misdemeanor case was dismissed after your successful completion of your term of deferred adjudicated probation.   


Benefits of Texas Expungements

Expunctions were created to allow a fresh start for people who were wrongly arrested or charged with a criminal offense. An expungement is a powerful court order to law enforcement agencies and criminal record depositories to destroy all records of an arrest and prosecution. Typically, the court orders the destruction of all jail records, police reports, prosecution reports, and court files. When they cannot be destroyed, the court will order that all of your identifying information be redacted from the records.

After your record is expunged, you can deny its existence. Furthermore, it is illegal for anyone to publish information related to an expunged offense. Expunging criminal records in Texas is controlled by the Code of Criminal Procedure, Title 1, Chapter 55, Expunction of Criminal Records.  Ask yourself these questions to see if you can get an expungement in Texas (or expunction in legalese) – and wipe your criminal records clean.

What if I am Not Eligible to Expunge my Offense?

Another option is to seal your criminal record by filing a Petition for Non-Disclosure.  A Non-Disclosure seals your record by preventing or prohibiting public agencies from releasing information regarding a sealed case to an third party not authorized by statute.  

Texas Non-Disclosures

The Texas Non-Disclosure statute is contained in Texas Government Code Section 411.081 which allows an individual who has successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision to petition the court that placed the individual on probation for an order of nondisclosure. An order of nondisclosure prohibits criminal justice agencies from disclosing the sealed criminal record.

Criminal history record information subject to an order of nondisclosure is excepted from required disclosure under the Public Information Act. Criminal justice agencies are only permitted to release criminal history record to criminal justice agencies, authorized non-criminal justice agencies and to the individual who is the subject of the criminal history record information.

Who is Eligible for a Texas Non-Disclosure?

    • You entered a plea of guilty or no contest; AND
    • The Judge deferred further proceedings against you and placed you on deferred adjudication probation (probation without a finding of guilt); AND
    • You have successfully completed your deferred probation; AND
    • You meet any applicable waiting period after completing your probation.

Offenses that are Not Eligible for a Non-Disclosure

There are some offenses that cannot be sealed by an order of nondisclosure, even if you have complete deferred probation and satisfied the applicable waiting period. These offenses include:

    • Indecency with a child;
    • Sexual assault;
    • Aggravated sexual assault;
    • Prohibited sexual conduct (incest);
    • Aggravated kidnapping’;
    • Burglary of a habitation with intent to commit any of the above offenses;
    • Compelling prostitution;
    • Sexual performance by a child;
    • Possession or promotion of child pornography;
    • Unlawful restraint, kidnapping, or aggravated kidnapping of a person younger than 17 years of age;
    • Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above offenses;
    • Capital murder;
    • Murder;
    • Injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual;
    • Abandoning or endangering a child;
    • Stalking; and
    • Violation of protective order or magistrate’s order.

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Applicable Waiting Periods to File for a Non-Disclosure

It is important to know what waiting period applies to your particular offense and when the clock starts running on the waiting period.  The waiting period begins once you have completed all the terms and conditions of your deferred adjudicated probation and the Judge has signed an order discharging your probation.  

Waiting Period on Eligible Felony Offenses

If your case is a felony and is not excluded, our firm may file a petition for nondisclosure five (5) years after completion of the deferred adjudication community supervision and dismissal of the case.

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Eligible Misdemeanor Offenses with No Waiting Period

If your case is a misdemeanor under the following sections of the Penal Code, our firm may file a petition for nondisclosure immediately after completion of the deferred adjudication community supervision and dismissal of the case.

  • Unlawful Criminal Instrument
  • Unlawful Access to Stored Communications
  • Illegal Divulgence of Public Communications
  • Unlawful Installation of Tracing Device
  • Criminal Mischief if loss less than $1500
  • Reckless Damage or Destruction
  • Interference w/ Railroad Property
  • Graffiti:  If Pecuniary Loss is Less than $1500
  • Burglary of Coin-Operated or Coin Collection Machines
  • Burglary of Vehicles
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Criminal Trespass by Holder of License to Carry Concealed Handgun
  • Theft
  • Theft of Services less than $1500
  • Tampering with Identification Numbers
  • Theft of or Tampering with Multichannel Video or Information Services
  • Manufacture, Distribution, or Advertisement of Multichannel Video or Information Services
  • Sale or Lease Multichannel Video or Information Service Device
  • Possession, Manufacture, Distribution of Certain Instruments used to Commit Retail Theft
  • Forgery
  • Criminal Simulation
  • Trademark Counterfeiting
  • Stealing or Receiving Stolen Check or Similar Sight Ord
  • False Statement to Obtain Property or Credit
  • Hindering Secured Creditors
  • Fraudulent Transfer of Motor Vehicle
  • Credit Card Transaction Record Laundering
  • Issuance of a Bad Check
  • Deceptive Business Practices
  • Rigging Publicly Exhibited Contest
  • Illegal Recruitment of an Athlete
  • Misapplication of Fiduciary Property or Property of Financial Institution
  • Securing Execution of Document by Deception
  • Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing
  • Simulating Legal Process
  • Refusal to Execute Release of Fraudulent Lien or Claim
  • Deceptive Preparation and Marketing of Academic Report
  • Fraudulent, Substandard, or Fictitious Degree
  • Breach of Computer Security
  • Tampering with a Direct Recording Electronic Voting Machine
  • Online Harassment
  • Unauthorized Use of Telecommunications Service
  • Theft of Telecommunication Service
  • Publication of Telecommunications Access Device
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Medicaid Fraud
  • Coercion of Public Servant or Voter
  • Improper influence
  • Acceptance of Honorarium
  • Gift to Public Servant by Person Subject to his Jurisdiction
  • Offering Gift to Public Servant
  • Perjury
  • False Report to Police Officer or Law Enforcement Employee
  • False Report Regarding Missing Child or Missing Person
  • Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence
  • Tampering with Governmental Record
  • Fraudulent Filing of Financing Statement
  • False Identification as a Peace Officer; Misrepresentation of Property
  • Record of Fraudulent Court
  • Failure to ID
  • Resisting Arrest, Search, or Transportation
  • Evading Arrest or Detention
  • Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution
  • Escape
  • Permitting or Facilitating Escape
  • Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear
  • Improper Contact with Victim
  • Contraband in a Correctional Facility
  • Barratry and Solicitation of Professional Employment
  • Unauthorized Practice of Law
  • Hindering Proceedings By Disorderly Conduct
  • Interference with Public Duties
  • Interference with Service Animals
  • Preventing Execution of Civil Process
  • Failure to Stop or Report Aggravated Sexual Assault of Child
  • Failure to Report a Felony
  • Use of Accident Report Information & Other Information for Pecuniary Gain
  • Failure to Provide Notice and Report of Death of Resident of Institution
  • Interference with Radio Frequency Licensed to a Government Entity
  • Abuse of Official Capacity
  • Official Oppression
  • Violation of Civil Rights of Person in Custody
  • Failure to Report Death of Prisoner
  • Misuse of Official Information          
  • Prostitution
  • Promotion of Prostitution
  • Obscene Display or Distribution
  • Obscenity
  • Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor
  • Employment Harmful to Children
  • Gambling
  • Gambling Promotion
  • Keeping a Gambling Place
  • Communicating Gambling Information
  • Possession of Gambling Device, Equipment, or Paraphernalia
  • Smoking Tobacco
  • Prohibitions Relating to Certain Cigarettes
  • Prohibition of the Purchase or Sale of Human Organ
  • Public Intoxication
  • Possession of Alcohol in a Motor Vehicle
  • Driving While Intoxicated
  • Assembling or Operating an Amusement Ride while Intoxicated
  • Violation of Court Order Enjoining Criminal Activity.

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Eligible Misdemeanor Offenses with a Two -Waiting Period

 If your case is a misdemeanor under the following chapters of the Penal Code, our firm may file a petition for nondisclosure two (2)  years after completion of the deferred adjudication community supervision and dismissal of the case.

  • Unlawful Restraint
  • Homosexual Conduct
  • Public Lewdness
  • Indecent Exposure           
  • Assault but not against police officer, family member or member of household
  • Deadly Conduct
  • Terroristic Threat
  • Aiding Suicide
  • Leaving a  Child in a Vehicle           
  • Bigamy
  • Enticing a Child
  • Harboring a Runaway Child
  • Violation of Protective Order Preventing Offense Caused by Bias or Prejudice
  • Advertising for Placement of Child 
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Riot
  • Obstructing of Highway or Other Passageway
  • Disrupting Meeting or Procession
  • Funeral Disruption
  • False Alarm or Report
  • Interference with Emergency Telephone Call
  • Harassment
  • Abuse of Corpse
  • Cruelty to Livestock Animals
  • Attack on Assistance Animals
  • Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals
  • Dog Fighting
  • Destruction of Flag
  • Discharge of Firearm in Certain Municipalities
  • Use of Laser Pointers
  • Illumination of Aircraft by Intense Light
  • Unlawfully Carrying Weapons
  • Unlawful Carrying of Handgun by License Holder
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
  • Prohibited Weapon
  • Unlawful Transfer of Certain Weapons
  • Hoax Bombs
  • Making a Firearm Accessible to a Child
  • Firearm Smuggling

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Agencies that will still have access to your sealed record.

Certain government agencies or entities will still have access to the information being “sealed” under the order of nondisclosure. These entities include the following:

  • The State Board for Educator Certification;
  • A school district, charter school, private school, regional education service center, commercial transportation company, or education shared service arrangement;
  • The Texas Medical Board;
  • The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired;
  • The Board of Law Examiners;
  • The State Bar of Texas;
  • A district court regarding a petition for name change under Subchapter B, Chapter 45, Family Code;
  • The Texas School for the Deaf;
  • The Department of Family and Protective Services;
  • The Texas Youth Commission;
  • The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services;
  • The Department of State Health Services, a local mental health service, a local mental retardation authority, or a community center providing services to persons with mental illness or retardation;
  • The Texas Private Security Board;
  • A municipal or volunteer fire department;
  • The Texas Board of Nursing;
  • A safe house providing shelter to children in harmful situations;
  • A public or nonprofit hospital or hospital district;
  • The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission;
  • The securities commissioner, the banking commissioner, the savings and mortgage lending commissioner, the consumer credit commissioner, or the credit union commissioner;
  • The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy;
  • The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation;
  • The Health and Human Services Commission;
  • The Department of Aging and Disability Services;
  • The Texas Education Agency;
  • The Guardianship Certification Board;
  • A county clerk’s office in relation to a proceeding for the appointment of a guardian under Chapter XIII, Texas Probate Code;
  • The Department of Information Resources, but only regarding an employee, applicant for employment, contractor, subcontractor, intern, or volunteer who provides network security services under Chapter 2059 to the Department of Information Resources;
  • The Department of Information Resources;
  • A contractor or subcontractor of the Department of Information Resources;
  • The Court Reporters Certification Board;
  • The Texas Department of Insurance; and
  • The Teacher Retirement System of Texas. 

However, even though they have access to your criminal offense information, these government agencies or entities will no longer will able to legally release the information contained in your order of nondisclosure to members of the general public or to non-exempted employers who are trying to perform a background check on you. 

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Nondisclosure is not an automatic or simple process. You have to meet all the qualifications, present a Petition for Non-Disclosure to the Court, and a judge still has to approve the non-disclosure. The decision to grant the request is discretionary with the judge—meaning the Judge may not support your petition if it is not “in the best interest of justice”. The law in this area is complicated, so it is best to hire an attorney who has experience in this area to represent you to ensure your petition is granted. 

So Why Bother with an Expunction or Non-Disclosure?

The advantages of an Expunction or an Order of Non-disclosure are numerous. Employment and other types of applications often ask if you have ever been arrested for a criminal offense. In most cases, a person who has had an arrest expunged or has acquired an Order of Non-disclosure can answer, “No”.   Note, however, that many law enforcement, security and military agencies expect applicants to disclose even expunged arrests; failure to do so may result in termination. Such is also the case for people applying for a license from such entities as the State Bar of Texas or the State Board of Medical Examiners, wherein an applicant can be denied licensing.

How Long Does It Take to Obtain an Expunction or Non-Disclosure?

Expunction – Once an Expunction request is filed, it takes approximately six to eight weeks for the court to rule on it. If the request is granted, the court orders all city, state and federal agencies to destroy the arrest records. This normally takes about 4 months, but has been known to take up to one year. You should check on the status with the DPS headquarters located in Austin if you have any concerns.

Order of Non-disclosure – Once the Order is granted, the clerk of the court must send a certified letter to DPS indicating the existence of the Order. The DPS then must send letters to any other agency that might have records of the arrest. No timetable is provided in the statute indicating how long DPS has to complete this task.

Our team of experienced Texas Expungement and Non-Disclosure Attorneys have more than 30 years combined experience  –  we know the system.  Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you.   At Hopping Law Group, PC, our attorneys can help you clear your Texas criminal record. We handle cases throughout the state of Texas.  If you have any questions concerning whether you are eligible to have your Texas criminal record sealed, you free free to contact us or call us toll-free at (855) 773-4669 and speak with one of our Texas Non-Disclosure  Attorneys for a FREE eligibility consultation.

John Hopping, Esq.

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