Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Texas

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.”

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:

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).)

Criminal Records That Qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure in Texas

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:

  • any offense requiring you to register as a sex offender
  • aggravated kidnapping
  • human trafficking
  • injury to a child, a disabled person, or an elderly person
  • stalking
  • a family violence offense, and
  • murder.

(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.

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, 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.

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