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Sealing Criminal Records

We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, some of our mistakes might have implications far into the future.

This is the case with criminal records, which can affect your ability to find employment, get into college, or even qualify for financial aid. You may be prevented from taking advantage of valuable opportunities if you have been arrested in the past, even if you have reformed your behavior completely.

You might be interested in learning whether these criminal records can be sealed, or whether your previous arrests may be removed from them.

Houston Criminal Record Sealing Attorney

Matt Horak has assisted many Texans with having their criminal records sealed or expunged. Mr. Horak has the legal expertise necessary to ensure that the mistakes of your past do not affect the opportunities of your future.

If you are located in Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Liberty, Galveston, or Waller Counties and you are interested in having your criminal records sealed, contact Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000.

Texas Record Sealing Information Center

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Why Have Your Records Sealed

A criminal history can have a big effect on future opportunities. Many employers and educational institutions require that you disclose any criminal history on your application. Your criminal record might prevent you from landing a job, being accepted into a school, or qualifying for financial aid. Your criminal history may affect your eligibility for housing assistance. It may also prevent you from being awarded a variety of professional licenses or certifications, such as a license to practice law.

Most people feel that it is unfair that their criminal record would be used against them in the future. Human beings grow and change over time, and in many cases the person that you are today is very different from the person who committed a crime years ago. Most people who have been arrested, prosecuted or even convicted of a crime later reform their behavior, and feel like they deserve a second chance. Having your criminal records sealed gives you that second chance.

There are two options for having your records sealed in Texas. One is called Expunction and the other is called Non-Disclosure. Which method you use depends on your circumstances; however, both options are subject to many restrictions. That is why it is important that you speak with a qualified Texas Criminal Defense Attorney, rather than attempt to seal your records on your own.

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Expunging a Criminal Record

Expunction removes certain criminal offenses from a person’s criminal record. Expunction is designed for those circumstances where a defendant was never actually convicted of a crime, or the conviction was overturned. The purpose of expunction is to prevent innocent people from suffering adverse consequences due to the criminal justice system’s mistakes.

Expunction is available only in the following circumstances:

  • If you were charged with a crime and the charges were later dismissed;
  • If you were tried for a crime but acquitted; or
  • if you were convicted, but the conviction was overturned

Expunction is available for both felony and misdemeanor offenses. Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure governs expunctions.

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Non-disclosure of a Criminal Record

Non-disclosure “seals” a person’s criminal records, so that they may no longer be accessed by civilians. Non-disclosure is appropriate in cases where a defendant has completed probation following deferred adjudication and the charges against them have been dismissed. Non-disclosure is designed to prevent those who have reformed their behavior from constantly being held accountable for past wrongdoing.

Non-disclosure may be available for both felonies and misdemeanors. Non-disclosure is available for felonies only if the defendant has successfully completed a period of community supervision (also known as a deferred adjudication period). You must wait five years after completing your deferred adjudication probation before you can petition for non-disclosure of felonies. Texas Government Code §411.081 governs non-disclosure actions.

Non-disclosure is also available for misdemeanor offenses. For some misdemeanors, you may petition for non-disclosure immediately after completing a deferred adjudication period. For other crimes, you must wait two years before petitioning for non-disclosure. These offenses include:

  • §42.08: Abuse of a Corpse
  • §25.09: Advertising for Placement of a Child
  • §22.08: Aiding Suicide
  • §22.01: Assault
  • §25.01: Bigamy
  • §42.092: Cruelty to Animals
  • §22.05: Deadly Conduct
  • §42.11: Destruction of a Flag
  • §42.12: Discharge of a Firearm
  • §42.01: Disorderly Conduct
  • §42.05: Disrupting Meeting or Procession
  • §42.10: Dog Fighting
  • §42.06: False Alarm or Report
  • §42.07: Harassment
  • §25.06: Harboring Runaway Child
  • §46.06: Hoax Bombs
  • §21.08: Indecent Exposure
  • §42.062: Interfering with Emergency Phone Call
  • §22.10: Leaving a Child in a Vehicle
  • §46.13: Making a Firearm Accessible to a Child
  • §42.03: Obstructing a Highway or Other Passageway
  • §46.05: Possession, Manufacture, Repair or Sale of Switchblade Knife or Brass Knuckles
  • §21.07: Public Lewdness
  • §42.02: Riot
  • §42.061: Silent or Abusive 911 Calls
  • §22.07: Terroristic Threat
  • §46.035: Unlawful Carrying of Gun by License Holder
  • §46.02: Unlawful Carrying Weapons
  • §46.04: Unlawful possession of Firearm
  • §22.02: Unlawful Restraint
  • §46.06: Unlawful Transfer of Certain Weapons
  • §25.071: Violation of Protective Order Preventing Offense Caused by Bias or Prejudice

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Offenses Not Eligible for Non-Disclosure

Some crimes are never eligible for non-disclosure. These include:

  • §21.11: Indecency with a Child
  • §22.011: Sexual Assault
  • §22.021: Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • §25.02: Incest
  • §20.04: Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Burglary with Intent to Commit Any Above Offenses
  • §43.03: Compelling Prostitution
  • §43.25: Sexual Performance by a Child
  • §43.26: Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography
  • Unlawful Restraint, Kidnapping, or Restraint of a Child Less than 17 Years Old
  • Attempt, Conspiracy or Solicitation to Commit Any of the Above Offenses
  • §19.03: Capital Murder
  • §19.02: Murder
  • §22.04: Injury to a Child, Elderly or Disabled Individual
  • §22.041: Abandoning or Endangering a Child
  • §25.07: Violation of Protective Order or Magistrate’s Order
  • §42.072: Stalking
  • Any Offense Involving Family Violence

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Procedure for Having Your Records Sealed

Your attorney will file a Motion for Expunction or a Motion to Compel Non-Disclosure in the court where you were tried for the crime. A hearing will be held, and if the judge decides to seal the records, an Order for Expunction or Non-Disclosure will be signed.

Once that order is entered, no civilian will gain access to the records. That means that if an employer or school looks for them, they will be told they do not exist. You may also deny having a criminal history to these civilian organizations, as well as to friends and family.

However, law enforcement agencies may still access your records if necessary for a criminal investigation.

You should speak with your attorney regarding who still has the right to access your records, and under what circumstances they may exercise that right.

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Restricted Access to Juvenile Records

It is possible for a child’s records to be placed under “restricted access” if certain criteria are met. If the juvenile records are placed under restricted access, then only criminal justice professionals will have access to the records. If anyone else attempts to access the records, they will be told the records do not exist. Texas Family Code §58.203 allows for automatic restricted access of juvenile records.

A child’s records will be placed under “restricted access” automatically when the child turns 21. This automatic placement occurs only if the child has not been convicted of, or placed on deferred adjudication for, a class A or B misdemeanor or a felony since their 17th birthday. However, if the child commits a crime after the records are placed under restricted access, the records will be removed from restricted access and made available to the public again.

You should speak to a juvenile defense attorney if you have questions about restricted access, or if you wish to seal juvenile records which have been removed from restricted access.

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Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Records Service – In-depth information about your options for sealing your criminal records, including links to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

12230 West Rd.
Houston TX 77065
(281) 517-1200

Juvenile Records – A National Review of State Laws on Confidentiality, Sealing and Expungement – A guide to understanding who has access to your juvenile records.

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Horak Law | Texas Criminal Record Sealing Attorney

You don’t have to allow your past to dictate your future. You have the right to enjoy a prosperous future as a law-abiding citizen, even if you have a criminal record.

Houston criminal defense attorney Matt Horak can help you have your criminal records sealed and put the past behind you. Horak Law represent clients in Harris and Montgomery Counties and surrounding areas of Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, Liberty and Waller counties, with offices conveniently located in Houston and The Woodlands.

If you are interested in learning whether you can have your criminal records sealed or expunged, contact us today at (713) 225-8000.

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  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Matt Horak has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer Legion