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Texas Expunction and Non-Disclosure FAQ’s

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett has helped numerous clients expunge or seal their criminal record in Austin and throughout Travis County. Although most of our clients come from a diverse variety of backgrounds, they usually share some of the same or similar questions, regarding expunction and non-disclosure of criminal records.

If you wish to discuss your eligibility for an expunction or order of nondisclosure for a case that occurred in Austin or Travis County, Texas, contact an Austin expungement and record sealing Lawyer at the Law Office of Kevin Bennett at (512) 476-4626 for a free confidential consultation and case evaluation. You may also contact the Law Office of Kevin Bennett through email.


Frequently Asked Questions


Expunction

My Case Was Dismissed, Why Does it Still Show On My Record?

Contrary to what many people think, a criminal record does not automatically seal itself or go away over time. It remains public and readily available unless it is expunged.

Unfortunately, even though your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty, your criminal history will show that you were arrested and charged with a particular crime. An expunction will remove the criminal history from your record.


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What is an Expunction?

In Texas, Expunction or expungement is the legal procedure in which all criminal records relating to a felony or misdemeanor arrest are erased, deleted and destroyed. These records can include booking photos, fingerprints, jail records, police reports, case records and any other history relating to the arrest and criminal case.

An expunction allows you to legally deny the arrest, the original criminal case, as well as the order of expunction itself. The only exception is if you are being questioned under oath in a criminal proceeding, in which case you may respond that the matter in questioned has been expunged.


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What is The Effect of an Expunction?

Following entry of an expunction order, the release, dissemination, or use of the expunged records and files for any purpose is prohibited. The petitioner can legally deny that the arrest ever occurred and the existence of the expunction order.

However, when questioned under oath in a criminal proceeding about an arrest for which the records have been expunged, the petitioner state that the matter in question was expunged.


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Is My Case Eligible For Expunction?

Possibly. If your case was dismissed, you completed pretrial diversion or you were found not guilty at trial, there is a good possibility that you may be eligible to have your case expunged.

If you wish to discuss your eligibility for expunction in a felony or misdemeanor case that that occurred in Austin or Travis County, Texas, contact Austin Expungement Attorney Kevin Bennett for a free consultation and case evaluation.


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Can I Expunge My Misdemeanor Case?

 Possibly. In Texas, only certain individuals are eligible for misdemeanor expungement. You may qualify for expunction if your case meets the following requirements.

  • Charges were never filed, or
  • Charges were filed, but later dismissed, or
  • You were acquitted, or
  • You were pardoned or otherwise granted relief based on your actual innocence, or
  • You have not been tried and the prosecutor recommends expunction; and
  • You meet all additional requirements under Texas law for expunging criminal records

At the Law Office of Kevin Bennett, Attorney Kevin Bennett will personally review your misdemeanor case to see if you qualify for expungement under Texas law. If you qualify for expunction, Mr. Bennett can file a petition for expunction on your behalf and represent you in court. 



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What is the Process for Expunction?

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.  


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Do I Have to Go To Court?

In almost all cases, your lawyer can appear in court on your behalf and you do not have to attend the expunction hearing. However, sometimes the court requires the client to appear as well. If you are a client of the Law Office of Kevin Bennett and you live outside of Austin or the State of Texas, Attorney Kevin Bennett will make every effort to have the court excuse your presence at the hearing.


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How Long Does the Expungement Process Take?

The process for expunction will usually take a few months from start to finish. To begin the process for expunction of records, one must first file a petition in district court. A hearing will be set no sooner than 30 days after the petition is filed. In Travis County, a hearing date is usually set about 4-6 weeks from the date a petition is filed.  

If you are concerned about having to disclose the offense or having it discovered on a background check prior to it being expunged, Attorney Kevin Bennett will gladly write a letter on your behalf to explain that the offense will most likely expunged in the near future with an explanation of your rights under Texas expunction law if the order is granted.


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Can the Expunction Process Be Sped Up or Completed Any Faster?

An expunction case will be given a hearing date at the time the petition for expunction is filed. Therefore, the sooner a petition for expunction is filed, the sooner it will be heard and possibly granted. To get started on the expunction process, contact Attorney Kevin Bennett for a free consultation.


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What Happens After an Expunction is Granted?

As soon as an expunction order has been granted, the petitioner can legally deny the arrest which has been expunged. The arrest and case records, however, will not be destroyed immediately. Instead an order is sent to the Texas DPS as well as any agencies listed in the order that maintain the records instructing them to destroy the records. Additionally, DPS is ordered to inform the federal depository of criminal records and any private purchasers of the Texas DPS Criminal Record Database that the records have been expunged by court order.


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How Long Does It Take for the Records to Be Removed?

From the time an expunction order is granted, it typically takes up to 90 days for the agencies to destroy the records. If you are concerned about having the records discovered on a background check prior to all of the records being removed, Attorney Kevin Bennett will gladly write a letter on your behalf to explain that the offense in question has been expunged and that these records can no longer be used against you under Texas law.


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What Happens if Someone Violates an Expunction Order?

A person who learns of an arrest while an officer of a listed agency and who knows of an order expunging the records and files relating to that arrest is guilty of an offense if he knowingly releases or uses the records or files.

Further, a person who knowingly fails to return or to obliterate identifying portions of a record or file ordered expunged is also guilty of an offense. Violating an expunction order is a Class B misdemeanor.


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How Much Does Expungement Cost?

In Travis County, the filing fee is approximately $350. This is separate from the attorney’s fees. Since no two expungement cases are the same, the amount of attorney’s fees vary depending on the amount of time it takes and how many agencies need to be notified of the records to be expunged.


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Texas Order of Nondisclosure

What is Deferred Adjudication?

A judge may place a defendant on deferred adjudication probation and defer any finding of guilt while the defendant completes the conditions of the probation. If the defendant successfully completes the terms of the probation, the court will not enter a finding of guilt. However, the case records remain public and easily available for discovery.


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I Received Deferred Adjudication, Why is The Case Still on My Record?

There is no provision under Texas law that automatically seals your criminal record after successful completion of deferred adjudication probation. If a court has not issued an order sealing a case in which you received deferred adjudication, there is a record of your arrest, filed charges, and your probation.


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How Do I Get My Record Sealed?

Texas Government Code Section 411.081 allows an individual who has successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision to petition the court that placed the individual on probation for an order of nondisclosure.  An order of non-disclosure “seals” the records and prevents disclosure of the records to the public. There are some offenses that are not eligible for an order of non-disclosure.


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What is an Order of Non-Disclosure?

An order of non-disclosure seals and prevents disclosure of criminal records to the public. If a Judge grants an order of non-disclosure, the non-disclosure order seals the criminal records that are subject to the order. Except under very narrow circumstances, you are also entitled to deny the fact that you were arrested or charged with the offense subject to the order.

Under Texas law, there are some offenses that are ineligible to be sealed with an order of non-disclosure. To find out more about an order of nondisclosure, you should contact a criminal defense attorney in the county where you were placed on deferred adjudication probation.


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Is My Case Eligible for Non-Disclosure?

Possibly. An individual who has successfully completed deferred adjudication probation may qualify for an order of nondisclosure. An Order of Non-Disclosure, also referred to as sealing your record is a great way to limit the discovery of any past criminal history, you may have.

If you wish to discuss your eligibility for an Order of Non-Disclosure for a case that occurred in Austin or Travis County, Texas, contact an Austin record sealing attorney at the Law Office of Kevin Bennett for a free confidential consultation and case evaluation.

You may contact Attorney Kevin Bennett at (512) 476-4626. You may also contact the Law Office of Kevin Bennett through email.


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What is the Process for Getting My Record Sealed?

In most cases, an Order of Non-Disclosure can be obtained immediately after successful completion of deferred adjudication probation.  However, some misdemeanor offenses have a 2 year waiting period from the discharge date while certain felony offenses have a 5 year waiting period. Any potential waiting period will depend on the type of case you wish to have sealed.

Kevin Bennett is an Austin record sealing lawyer who can review your criminal record and let you know whether you may be able to immediately request an Order of Nondisclosure or if you may qualify for getting your record sealed at a later date.


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How Long Does the Nondisclosure Process Take?

The process will usually take a few months from start to finish. To begin the process of getting your record sealed, you must first file a petition or motion in the Court where your case originated. A hearing will be set no sooner than 30 days after the petition is filed. In Travis County, a hearing date is usually set about 4-6 weeks from the date the petition is filed. Once a nondisclosure order is granted, it can still take several months for the process to be completed.

If you are worried about having to disclose the offense or having it discovered on a background check prior to it being sealed, Attorney Kevin Bennett will gladly write a letter on your behalf to explain that the offense will most likely be sealed in the near future with an explanation of your rights under Texas law if the order is granted.


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Can the Record Sealing Process be Sped Up or Completed Faster?

A nondisclosure will be given a hearing date at the time the petition is filed. Therefore, the sooner the petition is filed, the sooner it will be heard and decided. To get started on the process, contact Attorney Kevin Bennett for a free consultation.


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What Happens After the Judge Signs an Order of Nondisclosure?

Once the judge signs the order of nondisclosure, the court sends the order to the Texas Department of Public Safety and any other agency or office listed in the order. The Department of Public Safety then sends the order to all law enforcement agencies, jails, county offices, prosecuting attorneys, central state depositories of criminal records, and any other officials or agencies or entities of this state or of any political subdivision of this state, and to all central federal depositories of criminal records that there is reason to believe have criminal history record information that is the subject of the order.

DPS will also be ordered to inform all of the private companies or purchasers of the Texas DPS Criminal Record Database that the records have been sealed and can no longer be released due to the Order of Nondisclosure.


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How Long Does it Take for the Records to be Sealed?

Typically, the court records are updated within 48 hours and the Texas Department of Public Safety and agencies typically take 30 to 60 days to update their records.

If you are concerned about having the records discovered on a background check prior to all of the records being sealed, Attorney Kevin Bennett will gladly write a letter on your behalf to explain that the offense in question has been sealed through an order of nondisclosure with an explanation of your rights under Texas law.


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What is the Effect of an Order of Nondisclosure?

If granted, an Order of non disclosure prohibits criminal justice agencies or other entities from disclosing records to the public related to that arrest and charge. However, these entities may disclose the deferred adjudication record information to:

  • Other criminal justice agencies
  • For criminal justice or regulatory licensing purposes
  • An agency or entity listed in Section 411.081(i)
  • The person who is the subject of the order.

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What is the Difference between Sealing and Expunging a Record?

Sealing Your Record (Texas Government Code §411.081):

When a criminal record is sealed, criminal justice agencies are prohibited from disclosing to the public, any criminal history record information related to the offense. Essentially, an order of nondisclosure removes arrest and case records from public view and prevents the records from showing up on a background check. However, certain governmental entities, law enforcement agencies and authorized noncriminal justice agencies still have access to criminal history record information that is subject to an order of nondisclosure.  While nondisclosure is not as strong a remedy as expunction, a person granted non-disclosure can deny the arrest, case and prosecution of the offense except under very limited circumstances.

Expunging Your Record (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 55):

When a criminal record is expunged, a Court orders all criminal records relating to the arrest or criminal case to be erased and destroyed. These records can include mugshots, fingerprints, jail records, arrest reports, case files and any other records resulting from the criminal case. Following entry of an expunction order, the release, dissemination, or use of the expunged records and files for any purpose is prohibited. An expunction allows the petitioner to legally deny the arrest, case and prosecution of the offense unless they are being questioned under oath in a criminal proceeding about the offense, in which case they may respond that the matter in question has been expunged.


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Expungement and Record Sealing Lawyer in Austin

When seeking expungement or nondisclosure, choosing the right criminal defense lawyer can be essential in whether your petition for expunction is granted or your criminal record is sealed.. Kevin Bennett works closely with his clients, providing them with the personalized attention and dedication that they deserve. Mr. Bennett has helped countless individuals expunge or seal their criminal records in Texas.

As an expungement lawyer in Austin, Kevin Bennett helps clients expunge their criminal records so that they can finally put their criminal case behind them so that they can look forward to the future. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett helps clients expunge and seal criminal records for cases that occurred in Austin, TX or Travis County. If you case occurred in another county, please contact an attorney in that area to assist you.