Simplifying Your Legal Issues

Clearing Your Criminal Record: Expunctions and Nondisclosure Orders

"Can you clear my record?"

This is a question that I'm often asked. The answer, as is usual with most legal questions is: It depends.

We all make mistakes. That doesn't mean that we want to live with that mistake on our records forever. In certain situations, it is possible to permanently remove the record (expunction) and the person affected can go on as if the incident never occurred. It is, however, under limited circumstances in which a person may qualify for an expunction in Texas. Generally, a crime which you have never been charged with, a charge that was dismissed, a disposition that was a result of identity theft, and certain juvenile offenses may be eligible to be expunged. Whether or not your particular offense would qualify for expunction will depend on your specific circumstances.

What if I completed deferred adjudication or a pre-trial diversion program? Am I eligible for an expunction?

If you completed deferred adjudication or a pre-trial diversion program ("PTD"), you are most likely eligible for an expunction. It is imperative that you speak with an attorney experienced with expunctions to make sure you are eligible. There cannot be any underlying convictions. Even a class C misdemeanor that resulted in a conviction out of the same transaction may disqualify you. If an expunction is not available, not all hope is lost. You may be eligible for a non-disclosure order.

A nondisclosure order does not completely wipe the offense off of your record, but it does limit who can access or see the offense (this includes mugshots). This is likely the primary purpose most people are looking for when they want their record cleared. An order of nondisclosure would limit accessibility or publication by certain private entities. It is important to note that governmental agencies may retain information related to the offense, and that information may be used against you under certain circumstances. That means that if you are arrested again, your prior record may affect the outcome of that case.

If you have questions regarding orders for nondisclosure or expunctions in your particular circumstances, seek a licensed criminal defense attorney in your area who deals with expunctions.