Am I Eligible to Seal my Criminal Record In Texas?
Are you eligible to seal your criminal record in Texas? In this video I touch base on the three most common forms of record sealing: Expunctions, Non-Disclosures, Juvenile Record Sealing. I do my best to break it down. This area of law can be confusing.
Hi, I am attorney Eric Benavides. I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about sealing your criminal record. I get calls about sealing a criminal record every single day.
Now the two basic forms of sealing your record in Texas are either through an expunction or through a non-disclosure. I want to talk to you about both of them today. Let’s talk first about expunctions.
Expunction Record Sealing
An expunction is a complete destruction of your criminal record. In order for you to qualify for an expunction, your case had to have
- been dismissed
- gone to trial and you were found not guilty
- been “no billed” by the grand jury
Now what a “no bill” is, its basically anytime someone is charged with a felony, they have to present your case to a grand jury to indict you. If they decide there is not enough information to go forward, they can choose to “no bill” you, which in essence, dismisses your case.
The forth possibility is if you get pardoned by the Governor. We seen that so rarely and that happens so rarely that I am not going to spend anytime talking about that.
The way the process works is we file a petition in a civil court which is basically a civil lawsuit against the county which is asking them to destroy your records. If you were found not guilty in trial you can do it immediately.
Typically, the DA’s will never oppose this and in many counties such as Harris County, this can actually be done for free within the first thirty days. If your case was no billed, many times you can immediately do an expunction also, however, that will not be free. Or if your case was dismissed.
It’s going to depend on the reason it was dismissed for whether you can do the expunction right away or not. In Harris County for example, many times the
DA’s will agree to let you do an immediate expunction if they believe you were in fact, innocent, in the case. If not, then by law, you have to wait until the statute of limitations runs on your case.
Now the statute of limitations are different for different types of cases. So if you have a specific question about the type of case you want to expunge, just give me a call and we will talk about your particular issues.
Non-Disclosure Record Sealing
Now a non-disclosure is a bit different.
A non-disclosure is special type of sealing the record that results in a partial sealing which will seal your record only for the general public. Your record will still be visible to police agencies, it will still be visible to the government and it will still be visible to governmental agencies.
In order to qualify for a non-disclosure you have to been on deferred adjudication probation and successfully completed it.
Once your probation is successfully completed depending on the type of case you had you can eventually apply for a non-disclosure. Now there a few exceptions which I will cover in a bit.
On misdemeanors, misdemeanors either have no waiting period which means as soon as you finish probation you can immediately apply for non-disclosure. Some of them have a two year waiting period. And some cases are not eligible at all. The most common case that is not eligible for
a non-disclosure in Texas is the family violence or domestic violence case.
For a full list of all the cases that are not eligible, you can go to the record sealing portion of my website and it covers it all there.
If you have any specific questions that aren’t covered, Feel free to pick up the phone up the phone and give me a call and we will talk about your particular situation.
Now for felonies, if your felony qualifies for a non-disclosure, then there is a five year waiting period. Five years from the day you finished probation. Not from the day you were arrested, from the day you finished your probation. So for people that end up getting a two or three year sentence that could mean seven to eight years of this case showing up on your record, or at least the arrest showing up on your record before you are allowed to do the non-disclosure.
Now, recently, in 2017, a new law passed that allows us to do non-disclosures on certain convictions. Now that typically was never available, but now, you had a certain type of misdemeanor and you had a conviction, maybe a time served where you just paid a fine you might be eligible for a non-disclosure.
For those cases, give me a call and I will look up your case and I will let you know whether or not you are eligible.
Now the same goes for DWI’s. Previously, DWI’s were not eligible for deferred adjudication. So nobody was eligible to seal their record, they did a probation. But that has changed also.
On DWI’s, if it is your first DWI and you meet certain conditions, you could potentially qualify for a non-disclosure. Now typically, those conditions are
you were not in an accident you blood or breath test did not come back over .15 and certain other conditions you have to meet in order to be eligible.
If you are eligible and you can do the non-disclosure, there are also waiting periods for that.
If you are in this category where you feel like you might be eligible for a non-disclosure on a DWI, give me a call and we will talk about that also.
Juvenile Record Sealing
Now the third type of record sealing that I do is Juvenile record sealing. Now the law changed recently also, where in theory, your record should be able to be sealed automatically.
But in my practice, I have seen that doesn’t happen.
The record is supposed to be hidden, but the way the law is written is that if you are charged with another type of case they could potentially unseal those records and potentially they could be visible to some agencies.
In order to combat that we can file a motion to seal juvenile records in juvenile court and protect you. So if you have a juvenile case in the past that you feel like is following you or if you applied for a job or an apartment or a school and that popped up, give me a call.
There are ways to seal that off your record. Juvenile cases should never come back to haunt you. Our system is setup to protect juveniles and this is something
I can help you do.
So those are the three most basic types of record sealing we have in Texas. If you have any specific questions, give me a call, I am here to help. Again, my name is Eric Benavides, I am a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney. Just give me a call. See my website, email me, get in contact with me somehow, and I will help you.
Eric Benavides is a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney. He is a co-founder of Benavides & Serrano, PLLC. He is a graduate of the prestigious Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Trial College, and is a proven trial lawyer. He has been recognized as one of the best criminal lawyers in Houston by the Houstonia magazine, and has earned a perfect 10.0 rating on AVVO.