Expunging a misdemeanor from my record in Texas?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was charged with a misdemeanor a few years ago when I was young and stupid. Now when I go to get a job and the potential employer runs a criminal background check they are notified of the charges. I live in Texas. I am wondering what I need to do to get the misdemeanor conviction expunged from my record?” 

Young people to make mistakes. Often those mistakes result in a criminal arrest and conviction. While many types of convictions cannot be expunged from a person’s criminal record, if your conviction qualifies for expungement and you complete all the necessary steps for this process, all of the information related to the arrest and conviction will be removed from your criminal record and you can deny that the incident ever occurred.

What criminal convictions can be expunged in Texas?

Records that can be expunged in Texas include the following:

  • An arrest for a crime which was not charged
  • A criminal charge which was dismissed
  • Certain qualifying misdemeanor juvenile offenses
  • Conviction of a minor for certain alcohol offenses
  • Conviction for Failure to Attend School
  • Arrest, charge or conviction on a person’s record due to identity theft by another individual that was actually arrested, charged or convicted of the crime
  • Conviction for a crime that was later acquitted by the trial court or the Criminal Court of Appeals
  • Conviction for a crime that was later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the US President.

(Information above provided by the Texas Young Lawyers Association Family Law Committee)

What if my criminal conviction cannot be expunged?

You did not mention your specific offense but under state laws most offenses other than a Class C misdemeanor that resulted in a criminal conviction cannot be expunged in Texas.

Although this might not be the news you had hoped for if you are simply wanting to keep employers from viewing your offense on your criminal record you may have another option- an Order for Nondisclosure.

Although an Order for Nondisclosure will not expunge your record, it will allow a judge to issue an order which requires all public agencies to cease and desist the release of information about crime. An Order for Nondisclosure will, however, continue to allow certain governmental agencies to access your records.

Qualifying for an Order for Nondisclosure

Although it will be easier to qualify for an Order Nondisclosure than expungement, you will still have to meet certain requirements. For example, you will have to have a clean criminal record for a specified number of years prior to requesting the order. Certain offenders will also not qualify, including those who have been charged with family violence, a sex offense requiring registration, aggravated kidnapping, or murder.

If you meet the requirements outlined above you will can file a request for an Order for Nondisclosure by filing petition in the court where the original offense was heard. The court will then schedule a hearing to determine whether or not the order should be granted. The judge generally has a high degree of discretion when deciding whether or not to grant the order and will not grant it if they do not believe justice will be served.

Bottom Line:

Although you do not need a lawyer to file a request for expungement or for an Order for Nondisclosure, the requirements can be complicated and you might need to seek legal advice.

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