Making mistakes is what makes us human. We learn from them and move on with our lives, but some mistakes follow us. When you are arrested, charged or convicted of a crime, it’s marked on your criminal record and made public information. You may have changed following an arrest, conviction or charge, but your criminal record remains.
Having a criminal history makes it difficult to find employment, housing and education and financial opportunities. Thankfully, Texas law allows certain individuals with certain criminal offenses to seal or expunge their criminal records. Either process allows you to put the past behind you and move forward with your life.
Harris County Seal/Expungement Attorney
The Gonzalez Law Group, PLLC believes everyone deserves a second chance. That is why we want to help you seal or expunge your criminal record. The process is not easy, and it will require the guidance of an attorney experienced with the process.
You probably have many questions that The Gonzalez Law Group, PLLC can answer regarding the seal or expungement process. To schedule a free case consultation, call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form.
The Gonzalez Law Group, PLLC serves communities in Harris County that include Pasadena, Brookside Village, Manvel, Galena Park and many others.
- Who is Eligible for Expunction in Texas?
- Sealing Criminal Records in Texas
- Expunging Juvenile Offenses
- Additional Resources
Everyone has made a mistake at some point in their life. Maybe you were at the wrong place at the wrong time that caused the law to get involved and resulted in an arrest, charge or conviction. Unfortunately, most criminal convictions cannot be removed from a criminal record, but the law does allow information regarding an arrest, charge or conviction to be expunged in certain circumstances.
When your criminal record is expunged, information about an arrest, charge or conviction will be removed from your record and you can deny the incident ever happened. Only certain records are eligible for expunction under Texas law. The following records are eligible for expunction:
- A criminal charge that was dismissed
- An arrest for a crime that was never charged
- Certain misdemeanor juvenile offenses
- Certain alcohol offense related to minors
- A conviction for failure to attend school
- An arrest, charge or conviction due to identity theft committed by an offender who was actually charged for the crime
- Conviction of a crime that was acquitted by a trial court or the Criminal Court of Appeals
- Conviction of a crime that was pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States
Just because you record qualifies for expunction doesn’t automatically mean the court will grant it. The court will not grant expunction under the following circumstance:
- You received deferred adjudication or probation
- A felony conviction within five years of the arrest you seek to have expunged
- The offense wishing to be expunged was part of a “criminal episode”
- Charges are pending against you for a different crime
You also lose your eligibility to have a felony offense removed if the crime has been dismissed and the statute of limitations for the offense subject to expunction has not expired. A statue of limitation is the length of time a court has to prosecute you for a crime. Most statute of limitations last three years, but they vary depending on the crime.
Not all hope is lost if your record is not eligible for expunction. It may be eligible to be sealed. This is formally known as an “order of non-disclosure,” and it differs from expunction. An order of non-disclosure will not destroy your criminal record, but it does restrict who and when your criminal information can be viewed.
When your record is sealed, criminal justice agencies are prohibited from providing your record to certain entities such as employers, the general public and private investigators. You will not be able to deny the offense ever happened and certain agencies will still have access to your criminal record. These agencies include law enforcement, schools, hospitals, Texas licensing and regulatory agencies, state, county and municipal hiring authorities.
The process of sealing is neither simple nor automatic. For starters, you are required to meet six conditions to be eligible for an order of non-disclosure. These conditions include the following.
- You were placed on deferred adjunction for the offense you plan to seal
- Deferred adjunction was completed
- The statute of limitations for the offense has passed
- You were not convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for another crime
- The offense you plan to have sealed is not any of the following:
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Capital murder
- Injury to a child, elderly or disabled person
- Child abandonment or endangerment
- Domestic violence
- Violation of court order or bond for domestic violence
- Sexual assault
- Any offense that requires sex offender registration
- You cannot have any of the mentioned offenses on your criminal record, even if you are not seeking to have it sealed.
If your criminal record meets the requirements, you can petition the court to have it sealed. The decision to grant the request is solely up to the judge and they can deny your petition if it’s not “in the best interest of justice.” There are many pitfalls in this area of the law, so hiring a lawyer during this process would be beneficial.
Making mistakes is part of being young, and Texas law understands that. In most cases, certain juvenile convictions are eligible for expunction. Offenses committed under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, failure to attend school and misdemeanor crimes punished by a fine are easily expunged.
As with expunction for adults, certain requirements need to be met before the court will expunge a juvenile offense. You have the right to expunge a juvenile criminal record if:
- You are at least 17
- You were at least 10 years old but younger than 17 when the offense was committed
- You were convicted of no more than one crime that was punishable by a fine
Expunction of Criminal Record | Texas Penal Code – Read through the section of the Penal Code that governs criminal record expunction in Texas. You can learn more about who has the right to expunction, the process and the effect of expunction. The code can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
Order of Non-Disclosure | Texas Government Code– Follow this link to read a subchapter of the Government Code that explains who is eligible for an order of non-disclosure and the procedures that must be followed. The subchapter can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
Houston, TX Seal / Expungement Lawyer
The process of sealing or having a criminal record expunged is one that should be done under the guidance of an attorney. The risk of going about it alone outweighs the cost of hiring an attorney. The Gonzalez Law Group, PLLC will guide you through this complex process and will aggressively advocate on your behalf to prove you deserve a clean criminal record.
The Gonzalez Law Group, PLLC has over 70 years of collective experienced representing clients in Harris County communities including Houston, Pearland, Friendswood, Webster and many other. Schedule a time to speak with The Gonzalez Law Group, PLLC. Call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form.