Texas State Resources
Texas expungement laws call for a record to be removed from all databases if the petitioner is granted an expungement. The court will tell law enforcement agencies to destroy all records pertaining to the arrest and prosecution of an expunged record. The successful petitioner can deny any history relating to the expunged record.
However, expunged records do not disappear altogether. Records must be kept for the possibility they are needed in future criminal proceedings or an investigative process. Criminal records created due to a false identification shall be returned to the petitioner or completely obliterated.
An expunction proceeding is civil rather than criminal in nature, although the expunction statute is located in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
Texas Expungement Eligibility
A person who has been placed under custodial or non-custodial arrest for a felony or misdemeanor may have their record expunged if:
The person is acquitted during trial.
The person is granted a pardon.
Charges have been dropped.
The time period for charges to be made has ended.
The court did not feel it necessary to hand down any sentence.
A person was not convicted of a felony within five years before the arrest.
Once there is a court order to have an expungement, Texas expungement laws require all depositories containing information regarding an arrest to submit all information to the Federal Depository.
How do Records become Expunged?
The court must notify a defendant of their right to have their record expunged within thirty days of the completion of a trial resulting in an acquittal. Texas expungement laws call for the court to notify the defendant of their right to petition for expungement. Texas expungement cases take place in the same court where the criminal trial was held. The petitions must contain:
All personal information such as date of birth and social security number.
Race and sex.
Address at the time of arrest.
The offense they were charged with.
They must list all agencies involved with the case such as jails, detention facilities, prosecuting attorneys, correctional facilities, and any other organizations that may have access to records regarding the case.
Once the petition is properly filed, a court hearing must take place within thirty days of filing.
Juvenile Record Sealing
An individual with a juvenile record available for sealing may file an application with the court. Juvenile records ordered sealed by the court are removed from the criminal history database. Upon certification, the Texas Department of Public Safety may not disclose the existence of the records or any information from the records in response to an inquiry.
As of September 1, 2003, a person who has successfully completed a deferred adjudication probation for a class B misdemeanor, a class A misdemeanor, or a felony, may (depending on the offense committed) be able to ask the judge of the court of original jurisdiction that put him on deferred to sign an "order of nondisclosure" barring governmental agencies from disclosing the existence of the charge or the deferred adjudication sentence.
For most misdemeanors, the defendant can petition for the order of nondisclosure immediately after his deferred adjudication is discharged and his case is dismissed.
For others, a defendant must wait five years after his deferred adjudication is discharged and his case is dismissed to file for an order of nondisclosure. These misdemeanors are violations under the certain chapters of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
For felonies, the wait is ten years after the deferred adjudication is discharged and the case is dismissed.
Some offenses cannot be sealed with an order of nondisclosure.
There is a $28 filing fee for an order of nondisclosure.
After a judge has ordered nondisclosure, the defendant may deny the occurrence of the arrest and prosecution unless the information is being used against him in a subsequent criminal proceeding.
There is a common misconception that deferred adjudication records are removed from a defendant's criminal history upon successful conclusion of the community supervision (probation) period. In fact, the law does not provide for automatic expunction of deferred adjudication records. The records do become part of the defendant’s “permanent record” and the arrest, court process and probation record will appear on a criminal background check.
Accordingly, unless there is a court order directing otherwise, records of a prosecution resulting in a deferred adjudication are publicly available in the District Clerk's (Felony) and County Clerk’s (Misdemeanor) records, the Texas Crime Information Center database maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the National Crime Information Center maintained by the Department of Justice.
In addition, the records of the arrest, investigation and jailing are on file with the investigating agency, with the agency that jailed or processed the Defendant upon arrest, and with the magistrate who set bond and conducted the initial appearance.
Click Here for current news articles about Texas expungements, record sealing, deferred adjudication, pardons, and criminal history background checks.
Get Your Texas Rap Sheet:
Free Self-Help and Do-It-Yourself Guides:
Texas Bar Journal Client Page: I'm Innocent! Now What? (2013)
Texas State Law Library: Expunctions and Non-Disclosure
How to File Expungement Documents & Forms in Texas: eHow Article
How to Expunge Criminal Records in Texas: eHow Article
How to Expunge Arrests from Files in Texas: eHow Article
How to Remove a Misdemeanor From My Record in Texas: eHow Article
Instructions and Forms for Expunction of Texas Arrest Records
Information and Forms to clear your Arrest Record by Texas LawHelp. You may have a right to have all records of your arrest destroyed.
Texas Young Lawyers Association: Expunctions in Texas (2010)
TMCEC Regional Judges Program Materials: Juvenile Records: Expunction and Nondisclosure (with sample forms)
Locked Out: A Texas Legal Guide to Reentry (2012)
A project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and Texas CBAR (Community Building with Attorney Resources). This Guide is intended to assist advocates and others who help people experiencing the often difficult transition from incarceration to mainstream society. It summarizes a few of the most burdensome legal obstacles caused by a criminal record and provides guidance on how to effectively manage these barriers to reentry.
Free Pardon & Executive Clemency Forms & Instructions:
Note: A person receiving a full pardon after a conviction is entitled to an expunction of all arrest records relating to the conviction. This is not automatic but only results from petitioning the appropriate county court after receiving your pardon.
Full Pardon Information & Checklist
Texas Board of Pardons and Parole: Clemency Website
Free Statewide Statutes, Forms & Instructions:
Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure: Expunction of Criminal Records
Galveston County: Petition for Order of Nondisclosure
Harris County: Petition for Nondisclosure of Criminal History Record Information
Harris County: Deferred Adjudication Nondisclosure Procedures
Harris County: Suspension of Sentence & Deferral of Final Disposition
Harris County District Clerk: Instructions for Filing a Pro Se Expunction
Hidalgo County Office of Criminal District Attorney: Expunction of Criminal Records
Tarrant County: How Do I Get My Child's Juvenile Record Sealed?
Travis County: Expunction Questions and Answers
Travis County: Ban the Box Ordinance
Other Free Legal Resources:
Texas Criminal Justice Coalition: Texas County Resources
Tarrant County Ex-Offender Reentry Resources is a joint project of Tarrant Cares and the Tarrant County Reentry Coalition.
Prisoner’s Family & Friends United is a support, resource and advocacy project of Community Solutions of El Paso, founded in 2003 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to serving all members of the prison family.
Texas Voices for Reason & Justice maintains that current laws, as structured, are not keeping our children safe. They are, in fact, costing the taxpayer millions of dollars to prosecute, monitor, incarcerate, and severely punish many individuals who are of no danger to children, society, or the communities in which they live.
TexasLawHelp.org is a web site dedicated to providing free, reliable legal information to those who cannot afford legal help. It is part of a broader effort within the Texas legal aid community to use technology, specifically the Internet, to enhance and expand the delivery of legal aid.
Texas Criminal Justice Coalition
Statutory Restrictions on Convicted Felons in Texas (2001)
Working With Conviction: Criminal Offenses as Barriers to Entering Licensed Occupations in Texas
HoustonWorks USA: Juvenile Justice Program (Youth, Empowerment & Success)
Texas Defender Services
Texas Board of Nursing: Study Conducted on Effectiveness of Nurse Criminal Background Checks
Since starting to conduct CBCs for initial licensure in 2004, the Board has completed a combined 107,058 CBCs.
Texas Board of Nursing: Experiences with Nurses Who Have Criminal Histories
Texas State Board of Dental Examiners: Application to Request Evaluation of Criminal History
The SBDE has determined that criminal behavior is highly relevant to an individual’s fitness to practice dentistry, dental hygiene and dental assisting. Therefore, all criminal convictions or deferred orders, prosecution, or adjudication (a determination by a court that is withheld or delayed for a specific time period) must be reported to the Board.
The mission of the Texas Inmate Families Association is to break the cycle of crime by strengthening families through support, education, and advocacy. It also provides parole workshops as well as online resources for its members.
The mission of the Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable is to be a robust, community-wide collaborative and catalyst for systemic change that educates, facilitates, and advocates to promote public safety through effective reentry and reintegration of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons.
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