When Can you Expunge or Seal (Nondisclose) Your Record?
Expunctions are a legislative grace, which you can only receive under very limited
circumstances. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 55 governs expunctions.
Expunctions are a paper shred order. This will delete all records relating to your arrest and
subsequent criminal history after your arrest. Your record should not be locatable by the
Government or public when completed.
Sealing does what it purports. It seals your record. Texas Government Code section 411,
subchapter E-1, governs nondisclosures. Theoretically, only the Government would have
access to your records, while the public should not. It is not 100% foolproof because it does
not do that which an expunction does do. Nevertheless, it should be pursued if obtainable.
The only circumstances under which expunctions are obtainable are the following:
- An acquittal,
- An outright dismissal,
- A plea to a Class C Misdemeanor and completion of deferred adjudication (not a conviction
on the charge),
- A pardon, or
- A court’s finding of “actual innocence” to an offense.
Nondisclosures are complicated and require the consultation of an attorney. They are either
mandatory or discretionary to a Judge. You may generally nondisclose misdemeanors for
which you are not convicted. However, a nondisclosure can now even be obtained for
misdemeanor convictions. You can also nondisclose most felonies if you complete deferred-
adjudication probation. However, you cannot nondisclose if it is an offense requiring registration
as a sex offender, aggravated kidnapping, murder, capital murder, trafficking of persons, injury
to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual, abandoning or endangering a child, violations
of certain protective orders, stalking, or any offense involving family violence. You also cannot
technically nondisclose if you are placed on deferred adjudication or convicted for an offense
other than a Class C traffic offense after the offense for which you are trying to nondisclose.
The law has dramatically changed with nondisclosures.