In some cases, it’s possible to clear criminal history off your record so that background checks do not reveal it. This article looks at the different approaches available, and how the process is actually done.
Under the law of the state of Texas, making a criminal mistake doesn’t necessarily define you for life. A conviction doesn’t have to stay on your record forever. In certain cases, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure affords individuals who have a criminal conviction on the record, the ability to have it expunged. If you carry out the legal process correctly, it is possible to either seek an Expunction or a Certificate of Non-disclosure, both options giving you the ability to truthfully say that you have never been charged with a crime or convicted of one.
The Order of Non-Disclosure
If you’re accused of a crime, plead guilty, and are on deferred adjudication, your guilty plea is sent to the National Crime Information Center and the Texas Crime Information Center. Once your record gets on these databases, anyone doing a background check is able to see it. Such a search doesn’t turn up anything, however, once you successfully apply for a certificate of non-disclosure. It’s important to keep in mind that deferred adjudication isn’t an option for certain serious offenses, and, even if one is granted, it may be withdrawn if you are convicted of a fresh offense.
In addition, if you’re on felony deferred adjudication, a certificate of nondisclosure is only granted five years after the completion of the period. Waiting periods are generally not required for misdemeanors. You are able to find out whether you are eligible for such an order, by talking to an experienced criminal lawyer.
Expunging a record
It may be possible to have your name removed or expunged from the criminal information databases, altogether. This would be a step beyond the grant of an order of non-disclosure. Arrests that lead to no criminal charge, criminal charges that are dismissed at some point, juvenile offenses, and criminal charges in which the defendant undergoes pretrial intervention, may all qualify.
On the other hand, in some cases, an expunction may not be possible. This is generally true when a person has a new felony conviction or deferred adjudication within five years of the crime that he or she wishes to see expunged. It’s also important to keep in mind that an expunction is only an option once the statute of limitations for the crime in question has passed.
How can a criminal lawyer help you seal your criminal record?
Applying for an expunction or an order of nondisclosure can be a demanding and complicated process for anyone who doesn’t have experience with it. The first step to take would be to speak with an experienced criminal lawyer about how likely it is that you would qualify for one of these approaches to sealing your record. Once it is determined that your circumstances would allow you to qualify, the next step would be to draft a petition and file it with the district clerk’s office. Contacting the court that originated your charges is a step to take, as well, so that you can obtain a date to present your case to the court about clearing your record. Your lawyer could be an invaluable ally through this stage.
Once the hearing is through and your petition is approved, your lawyer follows up with the criminal record databases at the national and state levels to ensure that your record is cleared.
Clearing your record is a complex process, and needs to be handled with technical skill. When it is done correctly, you can count on having a blemish-free record.