Overview of Texas Criminal Record Expunction and Clearing

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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In Texas, if you were wrongfully arrested, or found not guilty, or charges were dismissed, or were arrested but later won an appeal or received a Governor’s pardon, you are eligible to completely clear your adult criminal record history. The process is called “expunction” (also known as “expungement”). Convictions, probation, and adult deferred adjudication orders cannot be expunged. If your criminal record cannot be expunged, the only other route is a record clearing option, called an “Order of Nondisclosure” (though not every type of offense is eligible for nondisclosure). Both procedures have the purpose of limiting or preventing access to information regarding your criminal records by third parties. Certain crimes, such as domestic violence, DWI, and sexual offenses, cannot be expunged or sealed.

Expunctions completely purge your entire adult criminal record or a particular criminal charge, including paper and digital records where the Order for Non-Disclosure seals your record and limits the dissemination of your criminal history to only law enforcement, licensing agencies, and other state officials. There is a waiting period before you can file for sealing. An expunction is a better choice because it erases your criminal past.

Motions to seal are available to a juvenile’s criminal records. The arrest, detention, prosecution and conviction can be physically sealed, but the process is not automatic. The court reviews several factors, such as the type of case, its disposition, whether there is any new or current charges pending as either an adult or juvenile. The upshot of the sealing of the arrest and prosecution records is that the minor can respond with “no” on applications if asked if she or he has a criminal record.

Moreover Texas has a system that automatically makes juvenile records harder to access once 21 is reached, assuming there has not been any convictions since 17. Called “Automatic Restriction of Access to Records”, the minor’s records are not destroyed or sealed, but their availability is limited to criminal justice agencies.

For more articles on the Texas expunction process, click on the following:

Clearing Your Adult Criminal Record (Expunction) in Texas

Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Arrest Records in Texas

Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Texas: Nondisclosure Orders

Process for Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Texas: Nondisclosure Order

Sealing or Expunging Juvenile Criminal Records in Texas

Process for Sealing or Expunging Juvenile Records in Texas

Automatic Restriction of Access to Juvenile Criminal Records in Texas

Do I Need an Attorney in Texas to File a Petition for Expunction or to Seal My Criminal Records?

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