Expunction V. Nondisclosure, What's The Difference?
One of the most desired things after one is being charged with a crime is how to remove it from their record. In Texas, there are two options to seal or erase your criminal record for adults—expunction and nondisclosure. There is a clear distinction between the two. Expunction allows you to erase a charge from your criminal record entirely—that is, legally deny that such charge ever existed. Whereas, a nondisclosure seals your criminal record and prevents the courts and law enforcement from disclosing such information to public entities (with some exceptions to certain license agencies and public entities). Each process has its own unique set of eligibility requirements and procedures to qualify.
TexasLawHelp.org has a free application that guides you through certain questions based on these requirements to see if you qualify for an expunction, nondisclosure, or neither. Although this application is helpful, it is always recommended to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney to confirm your eligibility.
There are several types of nondisclosures that fall under Section 411 of the Texas Government Code. Each type has its own set of requirements.
In order to qualify for an order of nondisclosure, you must:
- Successfully complete deferred adjudication;
- Wait the appropriate statute of limitations; and
- Not have been convicted of any criminal offense during the time between completing deferred adjudication and filing for a nondisclosure.
There are also specific exceptions to qualifying for a nondisclosure. Certain crimes or charges are explicitly excluded from nondisclosure including, but not limited to indecency with a child, stalking, abandoning or endangering a child, any domestic violence offense, etc.
Once a petition for nondisclosure is filed and the court reviews your case, the judge will issue an order of nondisclosure as long as:
- You completed the terms of your deferred adjudication;
- You meet the eligibility requirements; and
- Issuing an order is in the best interest of justice.
The specific eligibility and rules that apply to expunction can be found in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
Expunction applies to:
- Class C misdemeanors that resulted in deferred adjudication; or
- Offenses not resulting in a conviction—regardless of level—where the charges were
- Not filed;
- Charges were dismissed; or
- Person was acquitted or pardoned
Similar to nondisclosures, there is also a specific waiting period depending on the level of offense in order to apply for an expunction. If you are attempting to expunge multiple charges, the statute of limitations must have lapsed for each offense you’re seeking an expunction for.
- Class C Misdemeanors: 180 days
- Class A & B Misdemeanors: 1 year
- Felonies: 3 years
Once you are given a hearing before the court, the judge will determine if you meet the eligibility requirements for an order of expungement. Once the order is issued, all files and records related to that charge or arrest will be destroyed and/or returned to the court. No entities, agencies, courts, or law enforcement will be able to pull up your criminal charges.
Contact our criminal defense attorneys today to discuss if expunction or nondisclosure is right for you!