This is the next post in my series on the sealing and expunction of criminal records for residents of Austin, Texas. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing and stressed the need to consult an attorney for assistance with the process of doing so. Retaining counsel can help to ensure that the required procedures are properly followed. In this article I will discuss the benefits of gaining an order of nondisclosure or an expungement. If you require assistance then contact my office to speak with a lawyer.
There are many benefits to “sealing” a prior criminal arrest record. The greatest of these benefits is that you may lawfully answer “no” when an employer asks you whether you have been arrested or convicted of a crime. You may also answer “no” to such questions when they relate to applications for private-sector employment, housing, or for other forms of background checks. It is important to understand that a prior record is not destroyed or eliminated when it is sealed. Instead, it becomes subject to a “nondisclosure order.” This means that law enforcement or other entities may not disclose it to others. It goes without saying that sealing a prior record is of great benefit to one who is trying to move forward with their life. Many governmental agencies are still able to access records which have been made non-public, so it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether this relief will be helpful to you. Of course, an experienced and competent defense attorney will work to try to obtain a result which will allow you to get relief; it’s much better to consider the long-term consequences of a plea bargain or other negotiated outcome than to try to fix it on the back end.
If your case was completely dismissed and the applicable statute of limitations has run or you were found not guilty after a trial, you may also be eligible for an expunction of the record of that arrest. While a sealed record still exists, but is hidden from public view, an order of expunction will require that the record be destroyed. This means that law enforcement and other governmental agencies will no longer be in possession of documents which demonstrate an arrest or criminal history.” This means that even the government agencies which otherwise would have access to a “non-public” record should also be unable to locate the expunged arrest record; this is particularly important for those who have or seek a professional license. It is important to understand that the situations in which one may obtain an expunction (which is sometimes called “expungement”) are far more limited than those in which one may seal their criminal history. In my next article I will discuss eligibility for sealing or expunction of Texas criminal records.
If you feel like you are being held back by a criminal record then it is important to understand that you may have options. The sooner you deal with a criminal record, that is eligible for a nondisclosure order or expunction, then the sooner you can advance your career and/or educational prospects. I have been practicing law since 1995 and am certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in criminal law. I have assisted many individuals with clearing their histories. Contact my Austin office today to speak with a lawyer. I also serve the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.