Were You Arrested in Texas and Need Help? Check Out Our FAQs
A face-to-face meeting with Walter Reaves will help answer all of your questions, but until then, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions we hear.
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Why do I need to seal my record?
If you're thinking about getting a expungement, or an order of nondisclosure, one of the questions you might have is why you even need it. Another question is what it will really do.
The answer the first question is that it really depends on your situation. The question about your criminal record can come up in any number of different scenarios or situations. The most common situation - and the one that everybody thinks about - is when you go to apply for a job. Most job applications have some form of the question asking whether you have you been convicted or arrested. When you have to answer that question yes, that usually puts you down at the bottom of the list and lets somebody jump ahead of you. But it's not only employment applications where the issue comes up. It can come up in other situations, such as:
- you're applying for loans.
- you're filling out a lease applications
- you're trying to get some kind of certification or license.
- you're trying to get approval for things like chaperoning or being able to go on your kids' school trips
- your called for jury service
- You're dating someone who decides to run a background check on you
By the time you realize it's a problem it's already too late
If you put this off, it's usually too late to fix the problem. For that reason it's wise to go ahead and take care of it now, before it's too late to fix it. You owe it to yourself and your family to make sure this one mistake doesn't continue to follow.
If you wanna find out if you qualify for either an Expunction or Order of Non-Disclosure, please download our checklists. We've got one for expunctions, and we've got one for nondisclosures. These are the same checklists we use if you call. You can easily check and find out if you qualify. And if you do, we'll be glad to talk to you about trying to help.
If you have questions or if you are ready to pursue this now, please contact us and let us help.
How long do I have to wait to obtain an order for non-disclosure?
One of the first questions we ask when someone wants to file a motion for non-disclosure is, "when were you discharged from supervision". The reason is that there are waiting periods for most offenses. The time starts from when your probation expired, or you were discharged from supervision.
For felony offenses it's pretty straightforward - you have to wait 5 years. For misdemeanors, it's more complicated. There's either a two-year waiting period or no waiting period. The two-year waiting period applies to the following offenses:
- Abuse of corpse
- Advertising for placement of child
- Aiding suicide
- Cruelty to animals
- Deadly conduct
- Destruction of flag
- Discharge of firearm
- Disorderly conduct
- Disrupting meeting or procession
- Dog fighting
- False alarm or report
- Harboring runaway child
- Hoax bombs
- Indecent exposure
- Interference with emergency telephone call
- Leaving a child in a vehicle
- Making a firearm accessible to a child
- Obstructing highway or other passageway
- Possession, manufacture, transport, repair or sale of switchblade knife or knuckles
- Public lewdness
- Silent or abusive calls to 9-1-1 service
- Terroristic threat
- Unlawful carrying of handgun by license holder
- Unlawful carrying weapons
- Unlawful possession of firearm
- Unlawful restraint
- Unlawful transfer of certain weapons
- Violation of protective order preventing offense caused by bias or prejudice
If you were convicted of any other misdemeanor offense - and it's an offense eligible for a non-disclosure order - there is no waiting period. That means that the day you are discharged from probation you can file a petition for non-disclosure.
For more information on which offenses are not eligible for a non-disclosure order, you can check this article.
As you can see, when to file a motion for non-disclosure is not an easy question to answer, which is why you should talk with a lawyer who is knowledgeable in this area. If you have a case where you think you might be eligible for a non-disclosure order we will be happy to talk with you about that.
Are there any limits on obtaining an order for non-disclosure?
If you look at some legal websites you might think you can clear your record any time you are placed on deferred adjudication, and successfully complete it. That is far from the truth. Not only are there some offenses that are are not eligible for a non-disclosure order, but a prior conviction for certain types of offense will prevent you from obtaining the order.
The following offenses are not eligible for an order of non-disclosure:
- Indecency with a child
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Prohibited sexual conduct (incest)
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Burglary of a habitation with intent to commit any of the above offenses
- Compelling prostitution
- Sexual performance by a child
- Possession or promotion of child pornography
- Unlawful restraint, kidnapping, or aggravated kidnapping of a person younger than 17 years of age
- Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above offenses
- Capital murder
- Injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual
- Abandoning or endangering a child
- Violation of protective order or magistrate's order
- Any other offense involving family violence
You also can't obtain an order of non-disclosure if you have previously been convicted of one of the above offenses. This is why no lawyer should ever tell you they can obtain an order of non-disclosure for you before they find out your prior history criminal history. Just because you're eligible based on your current conviction, a prior conviction might make you ineligible.
You will see that one of the offenses listed above is family violence assault. We frequently have people requesting an order of non-disclosure where they were placed on deferred adjudication for an assault involving family violence. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do if you were placed were on deferred adjudication for that offense. You need to know that when you enter your plea - and understand that you aren't getting the same benefits from receiving deferred adjudication as other defendants.
Another thing that will keep you from obtaining an order of non-disclosure is getting convicted of - or placed on deferred adjudication - for a subsequent offense. Sometimes people will wait to obtain an order of non-disclosure, and not get it as soon as they are eligible. They then slip up and end up with another charge. Unfortunately, they have lost their chance of getting the order for the first case. However, if the new offense is not one of the offenses listed above, you can obtain an order of non-disclosure for the second case.
Before you go to the trouble of filing a petition for non-disclosure make sure you are familiar with the statute or talk with a lawyer who is. There's no reason to waste your money if you aren't going to be eligible. If you need advice about whether you qualify, contact our office for an honest, experienced opinion on your case at (254) 296-0020 or by filling out the contact form on this site.
What are the differences between expunction and nondisclosure?
Expunction and nondisclosure are both excellent opportunities for individuals who have a criminal offense on their record that they would like to see disappear (or disappear as much as possible). They give some people a second chance at functioning in society without a black mark on their criminal record. However, the two options are quite different in what they can actually offer someone.
Expunction means that you can have a certain offense removed from your criminal record completely. After expunction, it’s as if the incident never happened. If you ever have to take the stand in another trial and you have to swear under oath that you've never been involved with the law, you can legally do that after an expunction. Expunctions can be very hard to get; they are generally given out in very specific, special circumstances. If you were arrested for a crime and never charged, or you were charged with a crime that was ultimately dismissed, you're probably eligible for an expunction.
An order for nondisclosure does not wipe your record clean, but it does make it so that most people cannot access your record. Only some government officials will be permitted to examine your record. The incident covered by a nondisclosure order will not be public knowledge, and most people will never know about what happened with your legal troubles. A nondisclosure order is available for people who have successfully completed deferred adjudication and have received a discharge or dismissal of the deferred adjudication.
If you think you may be eligible for a Texas expunction or a nondisclosure order, contact the Law Office of Walter Reaves in Waco at 254-296-0020.