In Texas, the process of expunging a criminal record is often called “expunction.” In addition, some criminal records may be sealed by court order, called an “order of nondisclosure.” If your criminal record is expunged or sealed, it will no longer be visible to the general public, including potential employers. In most cases, you may say that you were never arrested or convicted of a crime.
Criminal Records That Qualify for Expunction in Texas
If you were arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, your criminal record may qualify for expungement under the following conditions:
- you were acquitted of the crime for which you were charged
- you were convicted but subsequently found to be actually innocent
- you were convicted but subsequently pardoned
- you were formally charged by indictment or information and the case against you was later dismissed, and the statute of limitations has expired, or
- you were arrested but not formally charged and you satisfy the waiting period described below.
Texas requires that you wait a specific period of time before filing for expunction if you were arrested but not charged with a crime (the last situation described above). These waiting periods are as follows:
- Class C misdemeanor, 180 days from the date of your arrest
- Class A or B misdemeanor, one year from the date of your arrest
- Felony, three years from the date of your arrest
The statutes do not specify waiting periods for expunction if you were acquitted, convicted but found to be factually innocent, or pardoned.
For any case in which the state’s attorney certifies that the files are not needed for a subsequent criminal prosecution, there is no waiting period.
(Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.01.)
If you are the close relative of a deceased person who had a criminal record, you may seek expunction of that criminal record on the deceased person’s behalf. The deceased person’s record must qualify for expunction under the rules described above. (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.011.)
Criminal Records That Qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure in Texas
If you were found guilty, pled guilty, or pled no contest to any offense other than a Class C misdemeanor and you successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision, you may petition for a court order of nondisclosure. An order of nondisclosure will seal your criminal record. Certain criminal justice agencies will then be prevented from disclosing your criminal history record information to the public. (Texas Government Code § 411.081.)
How to File
You must file a petition for expunction or nondisclosure in the district court for the county in which you were arrested or in which the offense occurred.
Getting Legal Help
Cleaning up a criminal history can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in Texas -- or for advice about your personal situation -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.