Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
First and foremost, you have to determine if you are eligible for Expunction or an Order of Non-Disclosure. There are basically two means by which a person arrested can have the records of that arrest made invisible to potential employers, insurance companies, etc. The first is an expungement and the second is an order of non-disclosure. The distinction between the two is significant, though the end result is similar. Expungement means the total removal of the information from any and all computer systems that contain the information as well as destruction of the notes, written records, etc. It is in effect, complete eradication of any records it ever occurred. An Order of Non-Disclosure on the other hand does not destroy the records, they continue to exist, but it becomes a criminal act for anyone to disclose or make public the information contained therein. The crux of an Order of Non-Disclosure therefore is that Public Data or other internet based databases cannot buy or otherwise acquire the information from "public information sources" - court records are public information - to sell to potential employers, boyfriends, girlfriends (or the parents of girlfriends), etc. The event still happened, there are still records, but these records are "sealed" for lack of a better word. Bottom line, both methods attain similar results for 90% of the population. If you want to join the military and obtain a top secret clearance - Expunction may be more beneficial. The same can be said if your goal in life is to become an FBI agent or, heaven forbid, you find yourself arrested again in the future for a different crime, particularly if it is a similar crime. However, for the majority of the world's population, one mistake can have lasting affect in that if can prevent you from obtaining a job, keep you out of a preferred four year college, etc. In these instances, both expunction and non-disclosure serve the same purpose. Is an expunction preferable? Absolutely but it is also the more difficult to get. Grounds for Expunction: An expunction is available if: (1) you are arrested and later acquitted of the charges; (2) Arrested and convicted but later pardoned for the charges, or found actually innocent; (3) arrested and the charge is dismissed without conviction and the Judge finds the charge was based on mistake or false information; (4) you are arrested and not convicted or placed on community supervision and the statute of limitations has run; (5) you are arrested, tried, convicted and later acquitted by the court of appeals; or (6) the District Attorney recommends the expunction to the court before the person is tried. Exceptions to the Expunction Rules: Although a citizen accused may be otherwise eligible for expunction on one of the six grounds set out above, there are four major exceptions. If the defendant is arrested for an alleged violation of probation or parole - the arrest records for the violation may not be expunged. The second exception is if the defendant is released on bail and intentionally and knowingly skips town. The third exception, which is not significant in that a person would rarely be denied a job for this action is being arrested for contempt (failure to obey a court order). Finally, Juveniles are never "arrested" rather they are detained, accordingly a Juvenile cannot get records expunged. (Juveniles however, may have records sealed or destroyed in accordance with Chapter 58 of the Texas Family Code). NON-DISCLOSURE Non-disclosure is different from expunction in that the records are sealed as opposed to destroyed. The advantage to a non-disclosure order is that public data and other websites that sell the information to employers (or nosey friends) are under a "gag" order, that is, they can not sell or tell anyone of the information. Furthermore, the police, courts, and criminal information systems are banned from sharing this information with such companies. However, police agencies can still see the information and use it in investigations and future prosecutions for new crimes. To be eligible for Non-Disclosure the citizen accused must meet five requirements:
Answer Applies to: Texas
Cook & Cook Law Firm, PLLC (SanAntonioDefenders) | Megan V. Cook
The only way to get your cases expunged from your criminal record in Texas is if the cases were dismissed, acquitted or otherwise pardoned. If you did any type of probation or deferred adjudication, then your case cannot be expunged. However, if you did do deferred adjudication for the case(s), you can get your cases sealed from your criminal record so that private employers will no longer be able to see the offenses. Assuming though that you indeed got both cases dismissed and you qualify for the expunction, then you will have to create a petition and order for your expunction. You will have to file both documents and pay the associated fees for filing each expunction. The base rate for each case in Bexar County, Texas is $242. (So you will pay double that to get both cases done). You will also have to pay $15.00 for each agency that your expunction order is sent to. The reason defendants hire criminal defense lawyers for this process is that the lawyer will be familiar with the specific area and all of the different agencies that have to receive a copy of the expunction. That is, expunctions order agencies (like the FBI) to destroy criminal records. But, in order to do the expunction properly, all of the agencies that learned about your offense have to receive a copy of the expunction, or they will not know to destroy the records. When you hire a lawyer, you are paying them to do the procedure, but also to send notice to every single agency that learned about your criminal record. You are better off to hire a lawyer and make sure it is done properly, because otherwise that $500.00 in filing fees is just going out the window.
Answer Applies to: Texas