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Sealing or erasing your criminal record are not interchangeable terms. You must file a petition for nondisclosure if you want to have your record sealed. If you wish to erase your record entirely, you must enter an order of expunction. Each process has its own procedures and eligibility rules.

Sealing your criminal record means that only certain entities will be able to see your record. The courts and law enforcement will be prohibited from disclosing your criminal history. However, some licensing agencies and public entities may be able to access it. However, you can choose to erase or expunge your record. If you expunge your crime, then all records of the arrest or conviction will be erased.

If you wish to seal or expunge your criminal record, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Attorney Explains Sealing or Erasing Your Record in Austin, Texas

Do you wish to seal or erase your criminal charges completely? Are you unsure if you qualify? If so, set up a consultation with Kevin Bennett. He can review your charges to see if you’re eligible for nondisclosure or expunction.

Kevin Bennett is a skilled attorney who has a passion for criminal defense. He handles all cases personally to ensure that his clients receive quality legal service. In addition, Kevin Bennett will never leave you in the dark. He will answer all your questions and concerns regarding your case.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett accepts clients throughout the greater Travis County area including Austin, Lago Vista, Lakeway, Rollingwood and Pflugerville.

Overview of Expunction v. Non-Disclosure in Texas

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The Differences Nondisclosure and Expunction

You may think that sealing and erasing your criminal charges is the same process. However, this cannot be further from the truth. Sealing your criminal record means most public and private entities cannot access your charges. However, some licensing agencies can still view your criminal charges such as the Texas Medical Board or the Texas Education Agency.

Erasing your criminal record means no one will be able to access it. You can legally deny the existence of the charges in a job interview without fear. In addition, licensing agencies won’t be able to access your record. It will be impossible for employers to learn about your criminal charges through public records.

Another difference between an expunction order and a non-disclosure order is eligibility. Only people who have been granted deferred adjudication can file an order of nondisclosure. An expunction order is reserved for those who were wrongfully convicted, arrested, indicted or had no final conviction. You cannot pursue an expunction if you were court-ordered to community supervision or deferred adjudication.

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Eligibility for Nondisclosure in Texas

If you wish to seal your criminal record, you must file a petition for nondisclosure. However, not everyone is eligible to have their charges sealed. Texas law states that you’re able to have your record sealed if you were:

  • Put on deferred adjudication;
  • Successfully completed deferred adjudication;
  • Waited the appropriate amount of time to seek an order of nondisclosure; and
  • You weren’t convicted of any criminal offenses during the time between your deferred adjudication and filing for an order of nondisclosure.

Texas requires you to wait a certain period of time before filing an order of nondisclosure. These wait times are:

  • 5 years for a felony;
  • 2 years for the following:
    • Unlawful restraint;
    • Sexual offenses;
    • Assaultive offenses;
    • Domestic violence offenses;
    • Weapon offenses;
    • Disorderly conduct;
    • Kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping;
    • Smuggling of persons;
    • Human trafficking; or
    • Gambling
  • No wait time for a misdemeanor.

Unfortunately, not everyone can file an order of nondisclosure. If you were ever put on deferred adjudication for the following, you cannot seal your record.

  • Indecency with a child;
  • Aggravated kidnapping with intent to commit sexual abuse;
  • Burglary with intent to commit sexual abuse;
  • Compelling prostitution;
  • Possession or promotion of child pornography;
  • Unlawful restraint, kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping of a person under 17 years old;
  • Abandoning or endangering a child;
  • Stalking;
  • Incest;
  • Sexual performance by a child;
  • Violating a protective order;
  • Injury to a child or elderly person;
  • Online solicitation of a minor;
  • Repeat violations of bond conditions for a domestic violence case;
  • Any domestic violence offense;
  • Sexual assault; and
  • Any offense where you must register as an ex offender.

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Process for Order of Nondisclosure in Texas

The first step is to file a petition of nondisclosure. You can find a copy of the form here. You must file the petition with the clerk that handled your initial charges. The court may also require you to pay a filing fee. Once the petition is filed the process can begin.

Texas court is required to hold a hearing regarding your order of nondisclosure. The state is also required to send notice of your hearing within 45 days of your request. The prosecutor in your original case will also be notified that you’re seeking nondisclosure.

The judge will issue an order of nondisclosure if:

  • You have completed all your conditions for deferred adjudication;
  • You are eligible to have your record sealed; and
  • Issuing an order of nondisclosure is in the best interest of justice.

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How Do I Qualify for Expunction?

Expunction is a rare occurrence in law. However, if you’re eligible it’s worth the hassle. If your order of expunction is granted, then your criminal history will be expunged. No public or private entities can access your criminal charges. Texas law states you are eligible for an expunction if:

  • You were acquitted by a trial court or Court of Criminal Appeals;
  • You were pardoned for the crime;
  • You were never convicted and not court-ordered to community supervision;
  • The indictment hasn’t been presented in front of you and the appropriate waiting period has passed;
  • The indictment was considered void;
  • The indictment was dismissed, and the court found a legal error or fraud;
  • You successfully completed a pretrial diversion program other than veteran’s court;
  • The crime’s statute of limitations has expired; or
  • You were given deferred adjudication for a class C misdemeanor.

If you were indicted and the information was never presented to you, then you may be able to expunge your record. Texas law states you must wait an appropriate period of time after the indictment before you can file for an order of nondisclosure. These waiting times include:

  • 180 days for a class C misdemeanor;
  • 12 months for a class A or B misdemeanor; and
  • 3 years for a felony offense.

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Expunction Process in Texas

Your first step is to file a petition for expunction with the district court your charges were handled in. Expunction hearings are a civil matter, so you will be referred to as a petitioner and the other party will be called the respondent. The respondent can be the law enforcement agency that arrested you or the prosecutor in your case.

You must bring the appropriate paperwork to your expunction hearing. This can include identifying information, the form of complete deferred adjudication and more. The respondents will be given a 30-day notice of the expunction hearing, so they can choose if they want to appeal the decision or not.

If the decision is appealed, the respondent can schedule a hearing and argue against your expunction. However, if you hire an experienced attorney, then you can also contest against the defendant. Your attorney can collect evidence of your good behavior to convince the judge you’re eligible for expunction.

The judge will either decide during after the appeal or in an ex parte court. Once the expunction order is final, the files and records related to your arrest will be destroyed or returned to court. No licensing agencies or employers will be able to pull up your criminal charges once the expunction process is finalized.

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Additional Resources

Order of Nondisclosure Overview – Visit the official website of Texas courts and access a document by the Office of Court Administration. Find more information about orders of nondisclosure, access to the form, the deferred adjudication process and more.

Expunction in Texas – Visit a document provided by the Texas Bar to learn more about expunctions in Texas. Access the document to learn more about the expunction process, how to apply for an expunction, and the actual form needed to file for expunction.

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Lawyer for Expunctions and Nondisclosure Orders in Travis County, Texas

If you or someone you know was charged but not convicted for a crime, it’s crucial you contact an experienced attorney. You could qualify to have your records sealed or expunged through an order of expunction or nondisclosure. Contact Kevin Bennett today for more information.

Kevin Bennett is an experienced criminal defense attorney. He has helped numerous people seal or erase their criminal records completely. With a strong work ethic and legal background, Kevin Bennett may be the answer for your problems. Call today at (512) 476-4626 to schedule a free consultation.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett practices law throughout the greater Austin area including Lago Vista, Rollingwood, West Lake Hills, Sunset Valley and Del Valle.

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