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.
If you were arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, your criminal record may qualify for expungement under the following conditions:
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:
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 (2018).)
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 (2018).)
You may petition for a court order of nondisclosure if you pled guilty or no contest to an offense and have successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision. There is a five-year waiting period for felonies and a two-year waiting period for serious misdemeanors. (Texas Government Code §§ 411.0715, 411.0725 (2018).)
Additionally, most misdemeanor convictions are eligible for sealing. If your punishment consisted of a fine only, there is no waiting period. Otherwise, you must wait two years after you have successfully completed all terms of your sentence to apply to have your record sealed. (Texas Government Code §§ 411.073, 411.0735 (2018).)
However, certain offenses are not eligible for an order of disclosure, including:
(Texas Government Code § 411.074 (2018).)
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.
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.
Cleaning up a criminal history can be complicated, and the law can change at any time. 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.