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Texas Record Sealing Services

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TEXAS RECORD SEALING SERVICES

Your Past Mistakes Will Remain Public Until You Seal Them

When you’re arrested in Texas, a criminal record is created with the Texas Department of Public Safety. These records are then forwarded to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, making the records publicly available when conducting a background check.

Texas law refers to Record Sealing as obtaining an Order of Nondisclosure, but, for clarity, we are going to use the term Record Sealing instead of Order of Nondisclosure.

This Information Is For You

Since the majority of people reading this aren’t lawyers, we’ve tried to simplify the legal jargon on our website, so regular people may follow along and get the information needed to understand their rights. However, before we get started, we should be clear that some of this information can get complicated, and, in many cases, it’s best to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.

To help you understand your rights, our lawyers have developed a tool that can be helpful in figuring out your options. This tool can’t be perfectly accurate in every situation, but our lawyers have invested substantial time and resources working to make it as accurate as possible.

You can get started by using our Secure Eligibility Test, or you can give us a call at (844) 947-3732 to see if our legal staff is available for a free consultation. Be aware that our staff is often busy with current clients and a high volume of calls and appointments. If you’re serious about getting rid of your record, your best bet is to take our secure, confidential Eligibility Test and then schedule an appointment to discuss your results and options.

Can You Seal Your Record?

When obtaining an expunction is not an option, having the record sealed is usually the next best option. Sealing your record does not destroy your record, but it does remove it from the public eye and nearly all background checks that most people encounter.

Your record may be available to certain Texas criminal justice and licensing agencies, but, to the public, it will be as if your record never existed. Record sealing in Texas is generally available to those who have received deferred adjudication for felony or misdemeanor charges, if they have successfully completed the terms of their sentencing. However, the law recently changed to allow for the sealing of non-violent misdemeanor convictions and DWI convictions as well.

  • General Requirements to Seal Your Texas Record
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    There are three different situations where Texas law allows the sealing of a record, so we will discuss each of their requirements separately. These situations include:

    • Charges where the sentence was deferred adjudication

    • Non-violent misdemeanor convictions for first-time offenders

    • DWI convictions for first-time offenders

  • 1. Texas Record Sealing and Deferred Adjudication
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    We will start with the requirements for sealing records of deferred adjudication sentences, which is the most common type of criminal record to seal in Texas.

    General Requirements

    To seal a criminal record where you were sentenced to deferred adjudication, you must generally satisfy the following requirements:

    1. Successful completion of a deferred adjudication sentence.

    2. You cannot have committed an of the ineligible offenses listed below.

    3. The waiting period must have passed since completing your sentence.

    4. The court must find that it is in the best interests of justice to seal your record.

    1. Successful Completion of Deferred Adjudication

    The threshold requirement for sealing records with deferred adjudication is that you successfully complete the terms of deferred adjudication. If you do not successfully complete the terms of the sentencing, you’re not going to be eligible to seal that record.

    What is deferredd adjudication?

    Deferred Adjudication is a form of probation granted by the court where, if you abide by the terms of your probation, the court will dismiss the charges against you. In exchange for the opportunity to have your charges dismissed, the court requires you to enter a guilty plea—if you violate the terms of your probation, the court will proceed directly to sentencing you. In Texas, deferred adjudication is commonly granted by judges for first-time offenders and those without extensive criminal histories. A benefit to deferred adjudication sentences is that they can often be sealed or expunged, if you successfully complete the terms of the sentence.

    Did you successfully complete deferred adjudication?

    Once you complete the terms of a deferred adjudication sentence, the court dismisses the original charges. If your charges have not been dismissed, then you probably have not successfully completed the terms of your deferred adjudication. Sometimes, the courts make mistakes and do not update records in a timely manner, but your charges should be dismissed if you've successfully completed deferred adjudication. Additionally, if you violate the terms of your deferred adjudication, this will often disqualify you from sealing your record.

    Deferred Adjudication vs. Deferred Prosecution (Pretrial Diversion)

    Deferred Prosecution or Pretrial Diversion is an informal type of probation where, if you complete the terms of your probation, the prosecutor will drop the charges before requiring a plea of guilt. It is less formal than Deferred Adjudication and typically agreed to with the prosecutor instead of a judge.

    /p>Satisfying the Waiting Period

    Deferred Prosecution is often confused with Deferred Adjudication. While the two types of sentencing share some characteristics, they’re very different, particularly in terms of qualifying for expungement or record sealing. If you successfully complete Deferred Adjudication and meet the requirements discussed below, you can usually seal the criminal record, and, in limited circumstances, you can instead expunge it. In contrast, if you successfully complete the terms of a Deferred Prosecution sentencing, you can almost always expunge the record, but sealing is never an option.

    /p>2. What Offenses are Ineligible to be Sealed?p>After successful completion of deferred adjudication for an eligible offense, there is usually a waiting period to satisfy before becoming eligible to obtain an order of nondisclosure. These waiting periods range from immediate eligibility (no waiting period) to five years, and determining the applicable waiting period can be complicated. In addition, in many cases, you cannot get a new conviction, except for a fine-only traffic offense, during the waiting period and still qualify.

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    There are a number of offenses that do not qualify for record sealing in Texas, which include the following:

    3. Satisfying the Waiting Period

    After successful completion of deferred adjudication for an eligible offense, there is usually a waiting period to satisfy before becoming eligible to obtain an order of nondisclosure. These waiting periods range from immediate eligibility (no waiting period) to five years, and determining the applicable waiting period can be complicated. In addition, in many cases, you cannot get a new conviction, except for a fine-only traffic offense, during the waiting period and still qualify.

    Automatic Sealing of Certain Misdemeanors

    Recent legal changes in Texas now make it possible to have your record sealed automatically under

    • You’ve never been put on deferred adjudication or community supervision, or been convicted of any criminal offense except for a traffic offense punishable only by a fine

    • The offense was a misdemeanor

    • You were not placed on deferred adjudication for driving while intoxicated (49.04) or boating while intoxicated (49.06)

    • You were not placed on deferred adjudication for offenses listed in Chapters 20, 21, 22, 25, 42, 43, 46, or 71 of the Penal Code (these individual chapters will be discussed in more detail below.

    More people will become eligible for automatic sealing of their records as time goes by, but, since the law only applies to those who completed their sentence after September 1, 2017, most people that would otherwise qualify will need to follow the regular procedures for sealing their records, which are discussed below.

    Sealing Deferred Misdemeanors

    When you’ve finished your sentence of deferred adjudication for a misdemeanor, you can usually file a petition for nondisclosure to immediately seal your record. However, there is a group of misdemeanors that require a two-year (2) waiting period after completing your sentence as well as having no additional offenses during that period (other than fine-only traffic offenses).

    Misdemeanors that require you to wait two (2) years to seal include the following:

    • Kidnapping, unlawful restraint, and smuggling of persons under Chapter 20

    • Sexual offenses listed under Chapter 21

    • Assaultive offenses listed under Chapter 22

    • Offenses against the family listed under Chapter 25

    • Disorderly conduct and related offenses listed under Chapter 42

    • Prostitution and offenses listed under Chapter 43 or

    • Weapons crimes listed under Chapter 46

    Note that these are the same offenses that cannot be automatically sealed under the new law.

    Felonies

    All felonies have a five-year (5) waiting period. In other words, you must wait for five (5) years after successful completion of deferred adjudication to seal a felony that was deferred, and you must remain conviction-free of any new criminal offenses during this period (other than fine-only traffic offenses).

    4. Best Interests of Justice

    Other than for offenses qualifying under the new automatic sealing law, sealing misdemeanors or felonies require that the court find that the sealing is in the best interest of justice. If the prosecutor makes an objection on this basis, you will need to demonstrate how sealing your record is in the best interests of justice, which is determined by the judge on a case-by-case basis.

  • 2. Sealing Texas DWI Convictions
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    Texas law recently changed to permit the sealing of driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses, provided that specific requirements are satisfied. These requirements are not that difficult to understand, but they may be difficult for many to satisfy.

    General Requirements

    This law is for first-time offenders only, meaning that you cannot have any other convictions or deferred adjudication sentences on your record, except for fine-only traffic offenses. In addition, you must satisfy the following conditions to seal a Driving While Intoxicated offense:

    • The level of DWI must not be a Class A misdemeanor or felony

    • Your BAC was not above 0.15

    • There cannot have been an accident involved with your DWI if there was another person involved, which includes passengers in your vehicle

    Waiting Period

    The waiting period for sealing a DWI offense depends on whether an interlock device was installed in your vehicle for at least six (6) months. If you had an interlock device installed in your vehicle, the waiting period is two (2) years. Otherwise, the waiting period for those without an interlock device is five (5) years. During these waiting periods, you may not be convicted of any criminal offenses except for fine-only traffic offenses.

  • 3. Sealing Non-Violent Convictions
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    Texas law has also recently permitted the sealing of nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, if specific requirements are met. Like sealing a DWI conviction, the requirements for nonviolent misdemeanor convictions are simple but may present problems for some petitioners.

    General Requirements

    This law is for first time-offenders only, meaning that you cannot have any other convictions or deferred adjudication sentences on your record, except for fine-only traffic offenses. The following conditions must be satisfied to seal a nonviolent misdemeanor conviction:

    Waiting Period

    The waiting period to seal a misdemeanor conviction depends on the potential penalty for the offense. If the offense was punishable by fine only, there is no waiting period and you may immediately petition for nondisclosure. For all other offenses, the waiting period is two (2) years. During this waiting period, you must remain conviction-free, except for fine-only traffic offenses.

Legal Effects of Sealing Your Record in Texas

  • How will sealing a criminal record in Texas help me get a job?  
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    Sealing a criminal record is the next best thing to expunging a record in Texas. Sealing records in Texas does not destroy them like an expungement, but an Order of Nondisclosure will ensure nothing relating to the sealed criminal offense will appear on nearly all background checks.

    Sealing a criminal record will prevent the release, dissemination, maintenance, or use of the sealed records for all purposes except specific government agencies who have been given access by law.  The list of approximately 30 state agencies authorized by Texas Law to view a sealed record are somewhat limited in nature, and primarily relate to licensing authorities.

    Once you receive a court order expunging your record, you may legally state that you weren’t arrested or convicted of the sealed criminal record as though it never occurred. Texas’ record sealing laws are very effective in helping you pass the background checks that most employers require.

  • Will sealing my criminal record in Texas restore my Second Amendment rights?  
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    No, sealing a record by obtaining an Order of Nondisclosure will have no effect on your firearm rights. In many cases your firearm rights are automatically restored under Texas law, but in these cases your federal firearm rights are almost never restored. The only way to restore your firearm rights in Texas is by having your Texas Conviction Set-Aside.

    We will go into more detail regarding restoring Second Amendment rights in Texas on our Texas Firearm Rights Restoration page, but restoration typically involves both state and federal law that should be handled by an experienced lawyer. The lawyers in our firm regularly handle complex firearm rights restoration issues, so a good first step in exploring whether you can restore your firearm rights would be to take our Secure Eligibility Test. Then, if appropriate, set up a time to speak with our legal staff about how to proceed.

What You Need to Do to Get Rid of Your Record

If you are tired of having a criminal record hold you back, reach out to us by taking our Secure Eligibility Test or by giving us a call at (844) 947-3732. Our law firm has helped thousands of people with criminal records move on in life, leaving many of the negative effects of a criminal record behind.  Our experienced attorneys and legal staff are here to help you figure out what criminal record clearing services best fit your needs, and then help you accomplish your goals.  Using our secure, confidential Eligibility Test is the best way to get the process started.

Some of the potential benefits of getting rid of your arrest record in Texas include:
  • Removing a finding of guilt and closing the case on your criminal record to help you get a better job

  • Becoming eligible for professional licenses you previously did not qualify for

  • Increased eligibility for student loans, housing assistance, and government programs

  • Increased eligibility for student loans, housing assistance, and government programs

  • Improving your ability to obtain higher-paying job opportunities

  • Improving access and admission to college and other educational resources

We Are Here to Help

Each of Texas's methods for dealing with your criminal record have different requirements and are meant for different circumstances.  To move forward, it’s important to determine what Texas criminal record services are available to you, and then select the services that will provide the greatest benefit. Eastman Meyler, PC is here to help you navigate this very specific area of Texas criminal law, fight to protect your rights, and assist you in moving forward in life without the effects of a Texas criminal record.

You can trust that you will get exceptional service from our law firm, as we have an A Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and prestigious attorney rating services such as Thompson Reuters and Avvo list our attorneys as Super Lawyers and Superb Attorneys. Our law firm has attorneys licensed to practice law in all Texas state courts, provides low price guarantees, and is here to fight for you and put your criminal record behind you!

Frequently Asked Question About Sealing Texas Records

  • What can I tell employers and landlords, and write on applications after having my record sealed?
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    When filling out an application for employment, housing, or almost anything else, you can indicate that you have not been arrested or convicted of the criminal offense which has been sealed. If you have a record, you know how important checking NO on an application that asks “Have you been arrested or convicted of a crime” can be!

  • Do I qualify if I was already placed on community supervision or deferred adjudication for another offense?
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    Yes, so long as the other offense was not for one of the prohibited offenses listed above. These offenses are generally sex offenses, violent crimes, domestic violence, or other serious criminal charges. In addition, if you are charged and convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for a separate offense while you are on deferred adjudication in this case or during the waiting period, you will not qualify for record sealing in this case.

  • What will show up in a criminal background check after my record is sealed?
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    Sealing a criminal record will prevent the release, dissemination, maintenance, or use of the sealed records for all purposes except specific government agencies who have been given access by law. The list of approximately 30 state agencies authorized by Texas Law to view a sealed record are somewhat limited in nature, and primarily relate to licensing authorities.

    Once you receive a court order expunging your record, you may legally state that you weren’t arrested or convicted of the sealed criminal record as though it never occurred. Texas’ record sealing laws are very effective in helping you pass the background checks that most employers require.

    These government agencies include: (1) the State Board for Educator Certification; (2) a school district, charter school, private school, regional education service center, commercial transportation company, or education shared service arrangement; (3) the Texas Medical Board; (4) the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; (5) the Board of Law Examiners; (6) the State Bar of Texas; (7) a district court regarding a petition for name change; (8) the Texas School for the Deaf; (9) the Department of Family and Protective Services; (10) the Texas Juvenile Justice Department; (11) the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services; (12) the Department of State Health Services, a local mental health service, a local mental retardation authority, or a community center providing services to persons with mental illness or retardation; (13) the Texas Private Security Board; (14) a municipal or volunteer fire department; (15) the Texas Board of Nursing; (16) a safe house providing shelter to children in harmful situations; (17) a public or nonprofit hospital or hospital district; (18) the securities commissioner, the banking commissioner, the savings and mortgage lending commissioner, the consumer credit commissioner, or the credit union commissioner; (19) the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy; (20) the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; (21) the Health and Human Services Commission; (22) the Department of Aging and Disability Services; (23) the Texas Education Agency; (24) the Judicial Branch Certification Commission; (25) a county clerk's office in relation to a proceeding for the appointment of a guardian for probate; (26) the Department of Information Resources but only regarding an employee, applicant for employment, contractor, subcontractor, intern, or volunteer who provides network security services; (27) the Texas Department of Insurance; and (28) the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

    It is also very important to note that you must also properly enforce your Order for Nondisclosure on private background check databases and companies as well, as failure to do so can result in sealed information appearing on a private background check. This is a different process, which is discussed in more depth on our firm’s Privacy Services Website.

  • If I have my record sealed, can the sealed arrest or charges be used against me in future legal proceedings?
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    Unfortunately, yes—since many criminal justice agencies may still view your criminal record even when it’s been sealed, it may usually be used against you in future criminal legal proceedings.

  • How will having my record sealed affect my immigration status?
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    A criminal offense can have serious implications on their immigration status, regardless of whether it has been sealed. Each situation is unique, requiring an evaluation of all of the facts and circumstances. Having your record sealed establishes that you qualify under state law to have your record sealed, and have taken proactive steps to take care of it—while there is no guarantee that having your record sealed will grant you any immigration status, doing so certainly cannot hurt. However, your best course of action is to speak with an experienced immigration attorney.

  • How will having my record sealed affect my ability to travel?
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    It depends on what country you wish to visit, and what type of criminal offense you’ve had sealed. Canada can be surprisingly strict in permitting entry to persons with criminal histories. Canada frequently denies entry to those with convictions for seemingly minor offenses such as DUI, shoplifting, possession of a controlled substance, dangerous driving, and theft. Canada and the Unites States have an information sharing agreement and will provide the Canadian government with whatever criminal information it has. Due to these strict admission requirements, it is highly advisable to clear your criminal record as much as possible before planning a trip to Canada. Doing so improves your chances of entry into Canada or getting stuck at the border and being subject to a lengthy interrogation.

  • Will having my record sealed make it easier for me to get a Sentri Pass?
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    US Customs and Border Protection is a federal agency which possesses ultimate discretion in approving applications for Sentri Passes, and as a result, having your record sealed is no guaranteed that your application for a Sentri Pass will approved. However, spending the time and money to clear up your criminal record should improve your chances of being improved, and could certainly be the difference in successfully obtaining a Sentri pass.