Helping Clients Seal Their Criminal Records in Fort Worth, Arlington and Tarrant County
Do you want to seal your criminal record? In certain circumstances it is possible to seal charges that you plead guilty or no contest to if you received deferred adjudication. That means you won’t have to worry about anything raising red flags during background checks that would limit your employment opportunities or ability to receive student loans. In most cases the terms of the deferred adjudication agreement include a period of probation, or what Texas likes to call “community supervision”. When the judge offers you the opportunity the pitch sounds very attractive, usually including words like “after probation is finished you will have a clean record.” However, this is not the case in Texas. We highly recommend that hire a lawyer to seal your record, that way you know that it has been done right and won’t worry about any surprises haunting you later on in life.
If I Complete the Terms of Deferred Adjudication in Texas is My Record Clean?
No. Unless you take the extra step necessary to have your record sealed or nondisclosed, the charges will still be visible on a criminal background check. If you completed the terms of deferred adjudication successfully our team of lawyers can seal your record. You see, Texas Code § 411.0715 makes it possible for people who have successfully completed the terms of deferred adjudication for most lesser charges to remove the charge from their record. Unfortunately your criminal record will not be sealed automatically in most cases.
We recommend hiring an attorney to seal you record who understands the complex Nondisclosure process. In most cases the terms of the deferred adjudication agreement include a period of probation, or what Texas likes to call “community supervision”. If you successfully complete the probationary period you might be eligible to file a nondisclosure to seal your record.
How Does Deferred Adjudication and Record Sealing Eligibility Work in Texas?
Basically, when someone is granted deferred adjudication the terms of their freedom are conditional; they must not get charged with any other crimes and complete the entire period of probation without any violations to be eligible for record sealing. Deferred adjudication is often given as an option for first time offenders of non-violent, less serious crimes. It gives them the opportunity to prove they can obey the law, and Texas law rewards them with the ability to clean their record. This chance at redemption comes with a high risk though.
In many cases of deferred adjudication if someone violates the terms of their probation or is charge and/or convicted of another crime, they will not only face the full scope of penalties for that crime; they will also be ineligible for nondisclosure and lose the opportunity to have their record sealed.
How Can Someone Be Eligible for Nondisclosure to Seal Their Criminal Record in Texas?
In Texas, there basically five different types of nondisclosure eligibility. Once you have filed for nondisclosure and a decision has been made granting or denying your eligibility for record sealing, you cannot appeal the decision. That is why it is imperative that you hire an experienced record sealing lawyer who is familiar with this very complex area of Texas law.
There are specific deadlines to file depending on the specific type of charge and eligibility you fall under, and then different waiting periods and conditions required to complete the process. Below are five basic categories that Texas record sealing statutes split Nondisclosures into.
1. Automatic nondisclosure eligibility. Automatic nondisclosures in Texas are meant to expedite and simplify the record sealing process for low level, first time offenders. To qualify for an automatic nondisclosure you must have completed the terms of deferred adjudication for an eligible non-violent misdemeanor charge and not have any previous convictions (other than traffic fines) and never participated in deferred adjudication before. Automatic nondisclosure eligibility is available for most deferred adjudication misdemeanors except: murder, organized crime, injury to a child or elder, prostitution, unlawful carrying of a weapon, kidnapping and unlawful restraint, sexting, assault, deadly conduct, terroristic threat, violating a protective order, indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, animal cruelty, criminal nonsupport, unlawful photography, and enticing or luring a child.
2. Deferred adjudication eligibility. With regular deferred adjudication (not automatic), a person can be eligible for nondisclosure if they were placed on deferred adjudication for a misdemeanor or a felony charge. However, people trying to seal their record for misdemeanors listed in number one above that were ineligible for automatic nondisclosure have a two year waiting period from the time their deferred adjudication ends until they can file for a nondisclosure. People completing deferred adjudication for certain felonies are also eligible for a standard nondisclosure, but there is a five year waiting period before you can file to seal your record.
3. Eligibility for community service and probation of lesser misdemeanors. Under this type of eligibility, a first time misdemeanor offender who has not been granted deferred adjudication can be eligible to have their record sealed. People who have been placed on probation and/or community service as punishment for are included in this group, not people who were given deferred adjudication. Misdemeanor charges that make someone ineligible for record sealing include alcohol-related crimes, organized crime, violent crimes, and crimes against children. Speak with a nondisclosure lawyer to see if you are eligible.
4. Eligibility after jail served for misdemeanor crime. This classification of eligibility includes people who have served the jail time they were sentenced for a qualifying misdemeanor charge as described in number one. The person must not have any prior convictions to qualify, and they must wait two years from the time they are release from jail to file for nondisclosure and get their record sealed.
5. Human trafficking victim eligibility. This type of eligibility is very specific. Only people who have been convicted for prostitution, but later proved that the crime was committed only because they were being coerced and at the time a victim of human trafficking are eligible for this type of nondisclosure.
What is the Difference Between a Non Disclosure Record Seal and a Record Expunction in Texas?
While a record expunction erases your criminal record, a nondisclosure seals your record from people who run background checks like employers or insurance companies but not law enforcement (the police can still see your criminal record after a nondisclosure in Texas).
Record expunctions can be filed for people who have gone to trial for eligible crimes and found not guilty. In most cases where people are eligible for nondisclosure in Texas, they pled no contest. A no contest plea is in effect the same as pleading guilty. The primary difference between a record expunction and a nondisclosure to seal records is that with nondisclosure involving deferred adjudication the judge has not accepted your guilty plea pending successful completion of your probationary period.
What Happens If I’m Placed on Deferred Adjudication?
If a court has given you the option of deferred adjudication and you agree to the terms, you will be under the supervision of the courts. This means you will have to meet certain conditions for a chance at redemption, giving you the ability to seal your record if you successfully complete the supervised term.
Some common terms a judge might order as terms for deferred adjudication include maintaining employment, reporting to a probation officer, random drug testing, and sometimes completion of an educational course. You may also be asked to perform a certain amount of community service as a condition of deferred adjudication.
If I Violate the Terms of Deferred Adjudication Can I Still Get My Record Sealed?
In some cases you might be eligible to seal your record, but only after a waiting period of two to five years and if you do not commit any other crimes. If you violate the terms of your deferred adjudication, the repercussions will be swift and indefensible. As part of your agreement with the court, the charges against you will be dismissed if you complete the terms of the agreement. However, if you commit any crime or otherwise violate the terms, you will be facing immediate jail time.
For example, if you pled no contest to a felony in the third degree, you could be facing jail time of upwards of 10 years. Deferred adjudication is like an immediate second chance; if you do not meet all of the terms of the agreement with the court, you don’t get another chance.
What Are The Benefits of an Order for Nondisclosure?
A nondisclosure order is helpful for a number of reasons including the fact you can avoid disclosing convictions to potential landlords or employers, your eligibility for student loans and housing assistance remains intact and your professional licensing will not be put in jeopardy because of a criminal conviction. In addition, your employment options will not limited.If you are granted a nondisclosure that means your criminal record is sealed when someone performs a background check on you.
Non Disclosure Process and Your Attorney
While it is possible to file the petition for nondisclosure on your own, it is not recommended. It is important to work with an attorney who knows when and how the documents are filed with the correct court and familiar with all of the procedures. However, there are also certain requirements which must be met for you to qualify for non-disclosure including:
Contact An Experienced Record Sealing Lawyer for Nondisclosures
If you have been given a deferred adjudication, probation, or served jail time for a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor crime, you might be eligible for a Nondisclosure order to seal your criminal record. A nondisclosure order can prevent criminal records from being used to deny you employment or housing. Contact the Hampton Law Firm at 817-435-2909 now to schedule a free consultation and see if you are eligible to seal your criminal record in Tarrant County, Fort Worth, or anywhere else in North Texas. Jeff Hampton is well versed in Texas laws and procedures regarding record sealing and they can help file the necessary paperwork and signatures required to complete the process.record expunction destroys your criminal recordrecord expunction erases your criminal record