Houston Criminal Law Blog

EXPERIENCED. AGGRESSIVE. HOUSTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW FIRM: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp

Cleaning Up Your Record – Expunctions and Non-Disclosures

http://www.sharpcriminalattorney.com/

Many people think that once their criminal cases are dismissed, those cases are off their records forever, only to be surprised when a potential employer or landlord asks them about it. The truth is that cleaning up your criminal background is more complicated than just getting a dismissal or completing deferred adjudication. Once the case is totally over the person needs to apply for either an Order of Non-Disclosure, or (if they qualify) an Expunction.

Orders of Non-Disclosure are court orders which forbid law enforcement from disclosing your arrest record to certain individuals. This is often referred to a “sealing” a person’s record. A person is eligible for a Non-Disclosure if that person successfully completes deferred adjudication probation, and waits for a statutorily defined waiting period. For many misdemeanor offenses there is no waiting period, but for certain misdemeanors, the law requires a person to wait two years from the date he or she finishes probation. For felony offenses, the waiting period is always five years from the date the person is discharged from probation. Certain offenses can never be sealed even if the person successfully completes probation. These include offenses for which a person has to register as a sex offender, aggravated kidnapping, murder, capital murder, injury to a child, elderly, or disabled person, child endangerment, violation of a protective order, stalking, or any offense involving family violence. Also, a Non-Disclosure does not prohibit law enforcement from sharing the record of your arrest with certain individuals and agencies. A list of all individuals and agencies that can still have access to sealed arrest records can be found in Section 411.081(i) of the Texas Government Code. Despite these limitations, Orders of Non-Disclosure will prevent most people, employers, and landlords from seeing the record of an arrest.

An Order of Expunction requires all law enforcement agencies to erase any and all records they have of a person’s arrest. The record of the arrest effectively disappears, and a person is even legally allowed to deny the record of his or her arrest. A person can obtain an expunction only under certain statutorily defined circumstances. The most common of these are when a person is acquitted at trial, or the person’s case is dismissed and the person waits for a statutorily defined period of time.

If you are interested in cleaning up your criminal record, call the Law Office of The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp today for a free consultation.

 

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