Sealing Records, Expunctions, or Non-Disclosures
The following information should answer most of the questions you may have regarding expunging or sealing an offense(s) from your criminal record. If there are still questions, feel free to call us at 1-800-630-5985 or text us at 972-814-7318 to setup a free phone consultation. If you do have a criminal record, you are wise in looking into trying to seal or expunge it, whichever is possible. We have had many clients where their offenses on their record held them up from getting a job, apartment, or loan. We realize that money is frequently an obstacle to getting the record sealed or expunged. We will work with you as much as we reasonably can on our payment plans to facilitate you getting this done. Contact us and let’s see what we can work out. We find that once we start discussing the attorney fee we can usually work out something.
Fortunately, the law changed somewhat during the 2015 legislature. In certain situations, certain misdemeanor cases can be sealed even if you got a conviction and even if you received jail time. These are mostly cases like theft (shoplifting), possession of marijuana under 2 ounces, and some other low level misdemeanors. Call us and we can ascertain if you qualify.
Additionally, and very important, the law changed in 2017 that allows certain DWI cases to be sealed. This is retroactive and could allow a DWI received years ago to be sealed. Call us and we can discuss it and see of you are eligible.
For most other offenses a conviction keeps the record from being sealed or expunged. However, you may want to take a look at another section of this website regarding Judicial clemencies, also called conviction “set asides” that you may take advantage of if you are still on probation or have not been off of probation more than 30 days.
One way is to get an expunction. An expunction wipes the information for a specific offense from all public records.
Another method is obtaining a nondisclosure order. This order makes the information for a specific offense that is on the record unavailable to the general public and allows you to legally deny that the offense ever occurred. A nondisclosure order is the mechanism to “seal the record.”
A nondisclosure order instructs courts and law enforcement agencies not to release information regarding your case to the general public. This is termed “sealing the record.” The general public is places like Home Depot, apartment managers, and banks when requesting a loan. The records still exist and law enforcement and certain agencies can still view the information. Once getting a nondisclosure order, you can legally deny the offense ever occurred when filling out job or apartment applications or discussing your background and it should not show on a background check. If you received a type of probation termed Deferred Adjudication, you most likely are qualified. But also, see above, the law has changed that allows certain misdemeanor convictions to be sealed; this includes some DWI’s.
An expunction order causes all records connected with the case to be wiped from the record. The eligibility to get this type of order is more restrictive and narrow. If you went to trial and were found not guilty, you are entitled to it; in fact, your attorney has a responsibility to get the order for you. If your case was dismissed or you were “no billed” by the Grand Jury and the statute of limitations or a certain time period has elapsed, you may be eligible for an expunction. Some people think you can get one if you received deferred adjudication probation. This is only true on most Class C misdemeanors if you received deferred adjudication; a Class C is at the level of a traffic ticket. If you received deferred adjudication on anything above a Class C, you cannot get an expunction, however, you still may eligible for a nondisclosure order as discussed above. Another situation where you may be able to get an expunction is if you successfully completed a Pre-Trial Diversion program. In this case, you may be able to expunge the record right after completing the program. Call us for more information on this.
If you got in trouble as a juvenile and did not get in any additional trouble, you may be able to get that record sealed / expunged. If you do not seal the record, it can still be viewed by law enforcement which includes prosecutors. The general public cannot see it even though it is not sealed because it is a juvenile record. We do not handle juvenile cases but feel free to call us if questions.
This firm does nondisclosures and expunctions. We have done dozens of both types all over Texas and our clients have given us excellent feedback on how it impacted their lives in a positive manner.
If you went to trial and were found not guilty, you are eligible; in fact, your attorney has a responsibility to do this for you in this situation.
If your case was dismissed or went to the Grand Jury and you were “no billed”, you may be able to get the record sealed once a specific time period elapses. Usually this time period is the statute of limitations but in some cases maybe a shorter period. Call for more information.
Also, if you successfully completed a Pre-Trial Diversion you may be eligible to have the offense expunged immediately. Call for more information.
Generally speaking, if you received deferred adjudication and completed it satisfactorily, you may be qualified to get a nondisclosure order to seal the record for that offense. Also, as mentioned earlier, even if you received a conviction, there are now certain misdemeanor cases you can get a nondisclosure order for and thus sealing the record. However, there are certain types of cases where you cannot get a nondisclosure order. For example, if you have ever been convicted, put on probation, deferred or otherwise, for a family assault case and certain sex offenses, you cannot get a nondisclosure for any case. This means, for example, that if you were put on deferred adjudication for assault family violence and lived it out okay, you cannot get a nondisclosure order for that case or any other case. Feel free to contact our office for a discussion on whether or not you qualify. The offenses that you cannot get a nondisclosure order for include the ones listed below.
1. An offense requiring registration as a sex offender under Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedures. This does not include Public Lewdness or Indecent exposure unless you are required register as a sex offender.
2. Aggravated Kidnapping.
4. Capital Murder.
5. Injury to a child, elderly, or disabled person.
6. Abandoning or endangering a child.
7. Violation of a protective order or Magistrate’s order.
9. Any offense involving family violence.
Please note that a conviction, probation, or Deferred Adjudication on any of the above offense precludes getting a nondisclosure order on any other offense.
Please call if questions or any of the above is not clear or if you are unsure.
It depends on what the new case was and did you get the new case while in the waiting period to be eligible for the nondisclosure order. Once you get off of probation, some cases require a waiting period before you can apply for the nondisclosure order. If you get in trouble during the waiting period, you may not be eligible. Call us and we can discuss it with you.
For many misdemeanor cases there is not a waiting period. For example, theft, possession of marijuana and many others do not have a waiting period. Some misdemeanors, such as unlawful carrying of a weapon, indecent exposure, do require a two year waiting period after you successfully complete the probation. All felonies require a five year waiting period. This waiting period, if there is one, begins after the probation is satisfactorily completed. Please feel free to call us for information on the cases that have a waiting period and those that do not.
Once we are hired to get a nondisclosure order for you, it will take about six weeks, more or less, to get the order (assuming the Judge grants it). It will take a couple of months more for all of the agencies to be notified that the record is not to be disclosed.
An expunction will take from three to six months. This is because the entities and agencies involved have to do more work to complete the clearing of the record for the offense.
For a nondisclosure order, once you provide us with the information we require and the down payment toward the fee, we prepare and file a legal document asking the court for the nondisclosure order. We also prepare the order itself for the Judge to sign. We also notify the state and furnish them a copy of the above paperwork. We next schedule a court date. We communicate with the state and ensure that they have no problem with the nondisclosure. Ninety-five per cent of the time they do not but if they do, a hearing may be necessary. In any event, to grant the petition, the Judge must find that it is in the best interest of justice. On the court date, which is normally about a month to six weeks after we file the paperwork asking for the order, I appear for you and present the case to the Judge. Next, assuming the Judge signed the order, the court clerk will send a certified copy of the signed order to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). DPS will then send the certified copy to all of the agencies and courts that have information and records on the case ordering them not to disclose any information on the case. This latter process takes the most time and could take months. We also provide you with a certified copy for your records.
For an expunction, the process is much the same. We prepare the petition for the expunction, set a court date, and appear for you. If all of the statutory requirements are met, the Judge must grant the expunction. The prosecutor will also look at the petition and may require a hearing if they think the statutory requirements are not met. Once the petition is granted and the order signed, the District Clerk will request all appropriate agencies to send all records to his office. Once everything is received, the records are physically destroyed. Once this occurs, the District Clerk sends the attorney for the petitioner a “certificate if finality” or the equivalent attesting to the fact that the record has been cleared for this offense.
The Judge has discretion to grant or not grant the request for the order. His determination is based on whether or not it is in the best interest of justice to grant it. If the Judge denies the Petition, there is no appeal and you cannot try again later.
If all of the information is correct and all of the statutory requirements are met, the Judge has to sign the order. However, if there is some legal challenge, then a hearing may be required.
They do get involved. The request for the nondisclosure or expunction order along with your record and possibly other factors are reviewed by them. They almost always have no problem and will agree to the request. If they do agree, the judge will most likely sign the order. If they do not agree and have some problem with the request, a hearing requiring the person requesting the order to appear may be necessary. At this hearing, the attorney handling the request for the nondisclosure order will attempt to show that it would be in the interest of justice to grant the nondisclosure order. It is worth noting that of the many nondisclosures and expunctions that this office has done, very few (around 3 per cent) have required a hearing.
An office visit is not necessary and, in fact, is discouraged since it serves no purpose.
We will get information from you and from looking at your criminal record. From this, along with our knowledge of the law, will provide us with sufficient information to ascertain if you are eligible and with what we need to go forward with requesting the nondisclosure or expunction order.
This office has done many nondisclosures and expunctions and vast majority of the time the client did not have to appear in court. We appear for you and discuss the case with the judge and almost always the Judge signs the order. If the request for the petition is contested by the District or County attorney, you may have to appear to answer some questions by the judge, the prosecutor, and your attorney. The purpose of the hearing would be to convince the judge that it is in the best interest of justice to grant the request if it is for a nondisclosure order or that all of the statutory requirements are met for an expunction.
Normally you do not. Once we receive the fee (or down payment) and some basic information, we take it from there. You are free to call occasionally to check the status of the effort. The process is painless as far as you are concerned. We do the work. Once we have obtained the order, we send you a certified copy attesting to fact that the Judge has granted the petition. If for some reason, we cannot obtain a nondisclosure or expunction order, whichever it is, we will tell exactly why we could not. This is rare, because we check the case(s) out before we take your money to ensure, as much as we can, that you are eligible.
For a nondisclosure order, we require one third of the fee up front. The fee for a misdemeanor nondisclosure is $1200 per case. The fee for a felony is $2100. There is also a court filing fee which goes to the court. The filing fee (i.e. court costs) vary from county to county but are usually around $300. The filing fee is included in our fee. We give you two months to pay the remainder of the fee. For example, you want to get a misdemeanor theft case sealed, you would pay us $400 up front to start on the case. This includes the court filing fee. Upon receiving the $400, we start immediately on the process. We do not wait until we are totally paid to start on the case. This gets things going faster. On or before two months is up you will need to pay the remainder of the money, which in this case would be $400 per month. So the total amount you will have paid for a misdemeanor case is $1200. Another example, if this was felony, you will have paid $700 up front and the remainder of $1400 on or before two months for a total of $2100. Note these fees are subject to change. Also, money received is considered money earned. Please feel free to call our office to discuss your situation.
For an expunction, the fee and payment plans for both misdemeanors and felonies are the same as a felony for a nondisclosure as described above. In other words, the fee for an expunction, whether misdemeanor or felony is $2100.
We accept most major credit cards and debit cards: Master, Visa, and Discover. A point to consider here is that you may not have a major credit or debit card, but you may have a relative or friend that does. It may be worth it to ask them to help you with their credit or debit card and you then pay them off. The end result is that it may help you get a better job and consequently make more money.
We handle Petitions for nondisclosures and expunctions state wide.
The expunction order erases the offense from the record, therefore it seals it from most everyone. The immigration authorities and other Federal agencies may still have information on the case. Call for more information in this regard.
A nondisclosure order seals the record for this offense from the general public. For example, it is sealed from potential employers such as Home Depot, Lowes, McDonalds, Microsoft, Dell, Piper Aircraft Company, and similar companies. It is sealed against apartment managers and landlords. It is also unavailable when requesting a loan. Generally, it seals the record against the majority of companies and organizations. For most of the population, this seems to be sufficient.
The expunction order erases the offense from the record, therefore it seals it from most everyone. Immigration may still have information on the case. Call for more information in this situation.
A nondisclosure order is not sealed from critical occupations such as law enforcement, the fire department, nurses, much of the medical profession, teachers, attorneys, and other similar professions for obvious reasons. There are also a number of state agencies that can still view the record. There are 23 of these agencies and they are listed below: (1) The State Board of Educator Certification; (2) a school district, charter school, private school, regional education service center, commercial transportation company, or education shared service arrangement; (3) the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners; (4) the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; (5) the Board of Law examiners; (6) the State Bar of Texas; (7) a district court regarding a petition for a name change under Subchapter B, Chapter 45, Family Code; (8) the Texas School for the Deaf; (9) the Department of Family and Protective Services; (10) the Texas Youth Commission; (11) the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services; (12) the Department of State Health Services, a local mental health service, a local mental retardation authority, or a community center providing services of person with mental illness or retardation; (13) the Texas Private Security Board; (14) a municipal or volunteer fire department; (15) the Board of Nurse Examiners; (16) a safe house providing shelter to children in harmful situations; (17) a public or nonprofit hospital or hospital district; (18) the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission; (19) the securities commissioner, the banking commissioner, the savings and loan commissioner, or the credit union commissioner; (20) the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy; (21) the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; (22) the Health and Human Services Commission; and (23) the Department of Aging and Disability Services.
These companies will have to timely update their information. If they do not and there are complaints it is possible the state can prevent them from getting the data at all. This gives them an incentive to keep the records current else they lose their “bread and butter”.
In many situations it will make the difference between getting a job and not getting the job. For example, let’s say that someone had been put on deferred adjudication for a theft case and applied for a job at Lowes. This person was probably told by his attorney that when he completes the probation his case would be dismissed. There are several problems with that statement. First, the case may not even be dismissed because, although the judge has to dismiss the case, he does not have to initiate the dismissal process. Many counties never dismiss a case when a person completed the probation, although some counties, such as Dallas, do automatically dismiss them. This can cause problems because the applicant may tell the potential employer that the case was dismissed when it wasn’t making the applicant look dishonest. Additionally, if the applicant answers on the application that he does not have a conviction, which he does not if he completed deferred adjudication okay, and the employer checks the record and sees that the applicant was put on probation, the employer will think the applicant lied to him and exclude him from further consideration. The applicant probably will never get a chance to explain. If he had got a nondisclosure order or expunction, he could legally deny the charge and if the employer did a criminal background check, the information would not show up because the agencies with the information would have a nondisclosure order forbidding them to disclose the information. Or is the offense had been expunged, the information would not even be on the record. Consequently, the applicant may be hired whereas before, he probably would have been excluded. If the offense was a felony theft case and the person had obtained a nondisclosure order, he would be greatly and doubly benefited because he can legally deny the offense, therefore the fact he had a theft case is hidden and, very important, the fact that he had a felony is hidden.
It can also make the difference between getting or not getting an apartment. For example: a person wants to move into an apartment. He has been put on probation for possession of marijuana and received deferred adjudication. The apartment manager will do a criminal background check and the offense will show up. The manager will probably not rent to that person. However, if the applicant had gotten a nondisclosure order or an expunction, he can deny a drug charge and, when the background check is done, the information will not show up and he will probably be accepted. If he had been put on probation for a felony drug possession charge and had received a nondisclosure order, one can see how much this order would help in this situation and the above employment example.
Refresh your memory on when your case was dismissed or no-billed, or if a nondisclosure, whey you were put on probation, what for, what county, and if you have been in any other trouble with the law. Figure out how you will pay the fee. Call us and a polite, patient, courteous, and knowledgeable person will discuss your situation with you. You will not be rushed, your phone calls will be answered (or returned in a timely manner), and you will not be charged for a consultation. We will work with you as much as reasonable on the payment plans to allow you to get the record for the offense sealed or expunged, whichever is allowed for the case. From feedback we get, we realize the benefit of this to you and want to do what we can to facilitate you getting the record sealed or expunged.