In Texas, those accused or convicted of a crime and who have served their sentence may have the opportunity to have their records either sealed or expunged.
However, it is important to know the difference between an expunction and a nondisclosure order. Therefore, these are a few things you should know about these orders.
An expunction order completely removes a crime from an individual’s record. This means that when someone pulls a record, no mention of the crime is available. Expunctions are permanent.
Eligibility for expunction
If an arrest occurs, but the court does not file charges or if the court files charges but the judge dismisses the case, the accused needs to wait specific periods of time, from 180 days for minor misdemeanors to three years for a felony, before they can apply for an expunction.
In addition, expunctions are given in cases with acquittals or pardons and to those convicted of a crime and later proven innocent.
A nondisclosure order seals the offense. Although law enforcement agencies have access to the information, the general public does not. Therefore, employers or housing cannot see the offense.
Eligibility for nondisclosure
If individuals plead guilty or no contest to a crime, they need to wait two-to-five years (serious misdemeanor and felony, respectively) and satisfy the judge’s orders before applying for a nondisclosure order, whereas minor misdemeanors typically have no waiting period. However, some offenses, such as stalking, human trafficking, murder, aggravated kidnapping or sex crimes, are not eligible for such an order.
To gain expunction or nondisclosure orders, individuals need to file a petition with the court in the arresting county. Then, these individuals can present their case during a hearing no more than 30 days from the filing.