Can I Get My Records Sealed?
May 31, 2023
A criminal record can greatly impact your personal and professional life. It may affect your ability to obtain employment, secure housing, or even take out a loan. However, if you have made mistakes in the past, it does not mean your future has to be defined by those mistakes. In Texas, there are options available to have your records sealed.
Reach out to me at The Law Office of Aaron Fonseca if you are interested in getting your records sealed. As a criminal defense attorney in Edinburg, Texas, I can help you seek a fresh start and a path forward. I’m proud to serve clients throughout Edinburg as well as Mission, McAllen, and Rio Grande Valley. Set up a consultation today.
How Does Record Sealing Differ From Expungement?
Expunction, also known as expungement, is the process of removing an arrest or criminal charge from your record. Once your record has been expunged, you can legally state that you have not been arrested or charged with a crime.
Nondisclosure is the process of sealing your criminal record from the public but allowing law enforcement officials and government agencies to see it. The term sealing is quite similar to expunction, but the sealed records can still be accessed by specific individuals, organizations, or entities.
Record sealing can be a suitable option for individuals who have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of non-violent offenses. Once a record has been sealed, it will not show up in standard background checks. However, certain employers, such as schools, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies, can still access your sealed records.
In other words, expunction offers a complete clearing of your criminal record, as if the charge never existed. Record sealing, on the other hand, only restricts public access to your record.
Who Can Request to Have Their Records Sealed?
In Texas, you can get your record sealed through an order of nondisclosure if all of the following are true:
The proceedings were deferred without a “guilty” finding;
You were placed under court supervision; and
The judge dismissed the legal proceedings at the end of the supervision period.
While most misdemeanors do not have a waiting period for record sealing, some do.
Who Is Not Eligible Have Their Records Sealed?
Certain crimes are not eligible to be sealed through an order of nondisclosure in Texas:
Crimes requiring the offender to register as a sex offender
Family violence offenses
Note: You are not eligible to get an order of nondisclosure for any criminal offense if you were put on deferred adjudication or convicted of one of the above-mentioned crimes.
Why Should You Seal Your Records?
There are many reasons why someone might want to seal their criminal records. Here are just a few:
Increased employment opportunities. When applying for jobs, many employers perform background checks. Having a criminal record can often disqualify you from opportunities, but having your records sealed can increase your chances of employment.
Better housing options. Landlords and rental agencies may also perform background checks, making it harder to secure a place to live when you have a criminal record.
Easier loan approvals. Similarly, having a criminal record can impact loan approvals, making it harder to get a car or home loan. Sealing your records can make the process easier.
Protection from discrimination. In some cases, people with criminal records are unfairly discriminated against. Sealing your records can protect you from this kind of discrimination.
Peace of mind. Sealing your records can simply give you peace of mind and allow you to move on from your past mistakes.
Taking the steps to seal your records can be a positive move forward.
What Does the Process Entail?
There are two methods of record sealing in Texas:
Automatic Nondisclosure for First-Time Misdemeanors
If you have been convicted of a first-time misdemeanor, you could be eligible for automatic nondisclosure. To be eligible for automatic nondisclosure, you need to have completed your sentence, paid all fines and, if necessary, taken classes or community service. With this method, six months must pass after the date you were placed on deferred adjudication before the judge can order nondisclosure.
Nondisclosure With Petition
For those who do not qualify for automatic nondisclosure, another option is to file a petition for nondisclosure. To be eligible for this option, you must have completed your sentence, including probation, and wait a certain amount of time after your sentencing (depending on the severity of the crime). Certain crimes are not eligible for nondisclosure with a petition.
Don’t Risk Your Future
Do not let your past mistakes define who you are. At The Law Office of Aaron Fonseca, I can help you move forward from your criminal past by getting your records sealed or expunged. Learn about your options by scheduling a free consultation with me today.