One mistake shouldn’t define you as a person, just as one criminal mistake shouldn’t have to follow you for the rest of your life. Under Texas law, just because you made a past criminal mistake, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s permanently on your record.
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows certain qualifying individuals a second chance at preserving their criminal record. Sometimes referred to as expungements or sealing a record, the two options available to citizens charged under Texas laws are an Expunction and a Certificate of Non-disclosure. Both allow, if properly filed and approved, an individual the ability to set their past mistakes behind them, allowing then to legally say they have never been charged or convicted of a crime.
Certificate of Non-Disclosure
Typically, when you plead guilty to an offense and are placed on a deferred adjudication, that plea of guilty is forwarded to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as well as the Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC) where it stays on your record, able to be found by anyone performing a standard background check. However, if you successfully apply and are granted an order of non-disclosure, the TCIC and NCIC are prohibited from disclosing to the public criminal history record information related to an offense.
If you successfully complete deferred adjudication and the charges against you are terminated, you may be eligible for a certificate of non-disclosure. You may not be eligible for an order of non-disclosure if you were placed on deferred adjudication for certain serious felony offenses, or if you have been convicted of a new criminal offense during the time you were placed on deferred adjudication and the date of your dismissal.
Further, there is a five-year waiting period from the time you successfully completed your deferred adjudication and applying for an order of nondisclosure if you were placed on felony deferred adjudication. While there is typically not a waiting period for misdemeanors, there may be if you were placed on deferred adjudication for a few specific offenses. To find out if you are eligible for an order of nondisclosure, call our office today!
Similar to a nondisclosure in the sense that your criminal history is removed from the TCIC and NCIC database, an expunction takes the removal of your record a step further by removing it from every criminal crime database, allowing you to legally say that this event never occurred.
There are different records that qualify for expunction including: an arrest for a crime that was never charged, a criminal charge that was ultimately dismissed, a criminal charge where the defendant successfully completed misdemeanor or felony Pretrial Intervention or Pretrial Diversion, as well as certain juvenile offenses.
A person would not be eligible for expunction if a person has been convicted of a felony or been placed on a deferred adjudication program within five years of the arrest or crime the person is seeking to have expunged. Further, a person cannot file for an order of expunction for a felony offense that has been dismissed unless the statute of limitations for the crime has expired. The statute of limitations being the time that the state or county has to prosecute an action after a person has been arrested.
After determining whether or not you are eligible for an expunction, it is important to hire an attorney who is familiar with the process necessary to clear your record. Unfortunately, if one of the agencies who has a record of your criminal history is not notified of the granted order of expunction, it’s possible your criminal history won’t actually be removed and will continue to follow you.
How We Can Help Seal Criminal Records
The process of applying for a certified order of nondisclosure or an expunction can be a long and confusing process for someone who is not familiar with the specific application and hearing process, which is why it is important to hire an attorney you trust to make this process as quick and stress-free as possible.
The first step to clearing your record is to call our office and find out if you qualify for either an order of non-disclosure or an expunction. Being familiar with the process, we can determine quickly and efficiently whether or not you qualify for either.
After retaining us to handle the process for you, we will draft and file a petition with the Harris County District Clerk’s Office to get the process for clearing your record started. After meeting with the court where your charges originated, we will get a date where we can have a hearing in front of the court to argue why your motion for nondisclosure or expunction should be approved. We will have a meeting before the hearing to discuss exactly what is going to happen, as well as go over the different outcomes that could arise after the hearing.
After attending the hearing, we will present you with your signed order, certifying that your prior criminal offenses have been removed from your record, then will follow up with both the NCIC and TCIC to ensure that the charges were removed.
If you want professional help in clearing your record and starting your second chance in life, contact Houston criminal defense lawyer Jack B. Carroll immediately so we can get the process started.
Remember, if this process is not handled correctly, your record may not be clean and your criminal history could continue to follow you.