Getting arrested is more common than you might think
Did you know that 1 in 3 Americans have been arrested by the time they are 23 or that 50-60% of men in urban areas are arrested in their lifetime? Because of the embarrassment and stigma that comes with an arrest, most people wish to move on from the experience with the attitude of “out of sight, out of mind”. However, even if your charges were dropped or you negotiated a plea deal that resulted in dismissal, your criminal records are public unless you expunge them.
Many people that are eligible for expungement do not realize that their criminal records are so publicly available or that they can have them expunged. Until recently criminal records were not readily available on the internet. Until your record is expunged or sealed records of your arrest and court case can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.
Expungements in Texas
Expungement is most commonly used term for the legal procedures for removing criminal records from public access. In Texas, there are two different legal procedures that do this depending on the outcome of the case.
Expunction is the legal term used in Texas for the actual removal and destruction of records relating to an arrest and court case. Expunction is available when charges were dismissed or when the defendant was acquitted at trial. This includes dismissals through pretrial diversion, pretrial intervention, and deferred prosecution.
Nondisclosure refers to an order from a judge that the criminal records in a case be sealed from the public records, restricting access only to law enforcement, some government agencies, and licensing boards. You may be able to get an order of nondisclosure and seal your criminal records if you received deferred adjudication which you successfully completed. On September 1, 2015 record sealing became available for certain misdemeanor convictions as well but only for cases arising after that date. Nondisclosure is not available for certain types of cases such as sex crimes, those involving domestic violence or stalking, and serious violent crimes.