Expunctions and Record Sealing
Your criminal history and background can have a direct impact on your ability to land a job or be accepted into the school of your choice. When applying for a job, loan, school, or educational program, there will usually be a background check of some extent performed on you. If the results of the background check show you in a negative light, you could very easily lose out on the opportunity of your dreams.
Having your criminal record sealed or expunged can go a long way in protecting your future and allowing you to live a normal life. In order to give yourself the best chance of having your record sealed or expunged, contact an attorney in Austin who is familiar with the process.
Attorney for Sealing or Expunging Criminal Records in Austin
Getting your record expunged can be a long and complex process. In fact, many attorneys find Texas expunction laws extremely confusing. However, an experienced expungement attorney can provide you with information regarding your eligibility for expungement and can help you complete the expungement process to clear your criminal record.
Contact The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today to discuss your options for protecting your future by having your record sealed or expunged in West Lake Hills, Austin, Rollingwood, Travis County, Sunset Valley, Pflugerville, Lago Vista, Lakeway and the surrounding areas. Kevin Bennett will review your circumstances and put you in the best position to receive the record sealing or expunction you desire.
Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 to schedule a consultation on your sealing or expunction options. Your initial consultation is free and it is the first step in cleansing your criminal record.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Texas
Many people are surprised to find out that even though their criminal case was “dropped,” dismissed or resulted in deferred adjudication, the arrest records and case information still remain on their criminal record and are public information. Unfortunately, even though you may not have been convicted of a criminal offense, the records of your arrest and that fact that you were charged can still be found after a simple criminal background check.
Shocked? Unfair? The good news is that under Texas law, you maybe eligible for an expunction which would erase the records of the arrest. You may also be eligible for an order for non-disclosure which seals your record. As an Austin expunction attorney, I can help you through the legal process of obtaining an expunction or order for non-disclosure.
Information on Having Your Criminal Record Sealed or Expunged in Texas
- What is an Expunction?
- Am I Eligible For an Expunction?
- Process of Expunging a Criminal Record
- Benefits of Expunging Your Criminal Record
- How to Seal a Criminal Record in Austin
- What is the Process for Sealing Criminal Records in Texas?
- What Happens If My Record is Sealed?
- Resources in Austin for Sealing and Expunging
What is an Expunction?
Expunction is the legal process through which all criminal records relating to an arrest are erased or destroyed. If an expunction is granted, a court order is issued which officially erases or destroys these records. After an expunction, you may legally deny the existence of the arrest and the existence of the expunction order itself. However, there is an exception: if you are questioned in a criminal proceeding concerning the arrest, you may say that the matter in questions has been expunged.
Am I Eligible For an Expunction?
If you are seeking to have your record expunged in Texas, you may be eligible under the following circumstances:
- You were arrested but not charged with a crime
- You were found not guilty of a crime
- Your case was dismissed
- Your conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
- Another person was arrested under your name
- You received a pardon from the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States
- Your case was dismissed after serving deferred disposition probation for a Class C misdemeanor
- You successfully completed a pre-trial diversion program
If you believe that you may be eligible for an expunction, it would be beneficial to contact an Austin expunction lawyer, who can help you take the steps necessary towards having your record expunged.
Process of Expunging a Criminal Record
When an individual files a petition with the court to have his or her record expunged, the individual is seeking to have all criminal records relating to a specific incident erased. After the petition is filed a hearing will take place to determine whether or not the individual’s record should be expunged.
At this hearing, your Austin criminal defense attorney can represent you. The Court will hear legal arguments and possibly evidence and/or testimony as to why a petition should or should not be granted. Texas has very strict criteria which must be met prior to an expunction being granted. If this criterion is not met, the expunction may be denied and you could possibly be barred from filing another expunction for the same case in the future.
If the individual’s petition is granted, the record of the arrest and/or all case records relating to the offense will be erased or destroyed. If your record has been expunged, you will have the right to legally deny that the arrest ever took place, unless you are being questioned in a criminal proceeding.
Benefits of Expunging Your Criminal Record
Expunging your criminal record will provide many offenders with an opportunity for a clean slate for a mistake they made in the past. A few of the most common benefits of expunging a criminal record are:
- Remove the stigma — Avoid being labeled a criminal. The criminal record is destroyed and is no longer available to be viewed by the public. This peace of mind can be priceless;
- Better job opportunities — Many employers automatically disqualify applicants with criminal records. If your record is expunged, you can deny the arrest ever happened and it will not appear on a background check;
- Better housing opportunities — No required disclosure when applying for housing or apartments;
- Better education opportunities — No required disclosure when applying to graduate, medical, nursing or law school; and
- Protect your name and reputation — After expungement, friends and family never know about your past criminal record, and you never have to fear someone will discover your history with a background check.
Sealing Criminal Records in Austin
Under Texas Government Code §411.081, a person who has successfully completed deferred adjudication and received a discharge and dismissal of the deferred adjudication probation may apply to have their case records seal through nondisclosure.
An order for nondisclosure is a court order that prohibits criminal justice agencies from disclosing to the public any criminal history record information related to the offense giving rise to the deferred adjudication. Therefore, the records are sealed from public view and for purposes of most background checks.
A person whose criminal history has been sealed through an order of nondisclosure can legally deny both the arrest and criminal case except under very limited circumstances. Unlike expunction, Texas law allows for certain governmental agencies, law enforcement, and authorized noncriminal justice agencies to access sealed criminal history record information.
Process of Sealing a Criminal Record
The process for obtaining an order of nondisclosure is substantially similar to the process of petitioning for expunction. A petition or motion for nondisclosure must be filed in the court that originally heard the case. Once filed, a hearing date will be set and you must provide proper notice to all of the parties that are required to be notified under Texas law.
On the hearing date, the required parties will be given an opportunity to challenge the petition. Your criminal defense lawyer will represent you at this hearing and make arguments in favor of granting the nondisclosure. The court will then decide whether to grant the order.
A Judge will not automatically grant an order of nondisclosure and can deny the order if they believe justice would not be served if the order were to be granted. Unlike an expunction where you either meet the requirements for expungement or you don’t, a nondisclosure is discretionary and may be denied.
As you can see, when seeking nondisclosure, choosing the right criminal defense lawyer can be essential in whether your order of nondisclosure is granted. Kevin Bennett works closely with his clients, providing them with the personalized attention and dedication to help get their criminal record sealed. Mr. Bennett has helped countless individuals expunge or seal their criminal records in Austin, Texas.
What Happens If My Record is Sealed?
Being granted a non-disclosure order which would have your criminal record sealed may be available to individuals who have completed deferred adjudication probation. Although this option is not as effective as an expunction (the record is still viewable by governmental agencies), it is an option that will prevent the public from having access to your criminal record.
If an individual has been charged with a misdemeanor offense, the offender can usually petition to have his or her record sealed immediately after completing deferred adjudication, however, in some cases he or she will have to wait two years after the dismissal of the case. The wait for having a felony offense sealed after the completion of deferred adjudication is five years.
If granted, an Order of Non-Disclosure will prohibit criminal justice agencies from disclosing the information about the criminal offense to third parties and you may deny that you were ever arrested, except in a future a criminal proceeding. However, the law does allow for certain government and/or licensing agencies to obtain information about the offense.
Resources in Austin for Sealing and Expunging
Texas Statutes Online to Expunge Your Criminal Record – The majority of Texas expunction laws are found in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The statute details the requirements for expunction, the procedure for expunction and the effect of expunction. Texas laws for expunction of criminal records can be confusing and difficult to understand, even for some attorneys.
Texas Laws Online to Seal Your Criminal Record – Texas record sealing and nondisclosure laws are listed in Texas Government Code Section 411.081. This code section lists the requirements, eligibility, process and benefits of sealing your record through nondisclosure in Texas.
Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Records Site – Texas DPS provides information on their web site how to search for criminal history records. The records include arrests, prosecutions and the disposition of the case for persons arrested for Class B misdemeanor or greater violation of Texas criminal statutes.
Finding the Best Austin Attorney for Sealing or Expunging Records
If you believe that you are eligible to have your record sealed or expunged, take an important step today by contacting Kevin Bennett. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett has experience assisting clients in getting their records sealed or expunged in West Lake Hills, Sunset Valley, Rollingwood, Austin, Travis County, Pflugerville, and the surrounding areas.
Kevin Bennett is prepared to represent you in a records sealing or expunction hearing. Contact him today at (512) 476-4626 to discuss your eligibility.