Charged with a crime, even though your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty? Criminal history is used by governmental agencies, schools, employers, apartments and credit agencies to judge a person. This can result in the denial of admission to schools, employment, housing and credit.
An arrest record can haunt you for years to come, even if you were wrongfully arrested. Everyday, citizens are arrested by mistake only later to have the charges dropped or are found not guilty. Some go through anger management, drug counseling or other counseling and then have the charges dismissed, yet still do not have a clean record. Information about your arrest is part of the public record, available to anyone who does a background check. With an arrest on your record, you may find it harder to get a job, to rent an apartment, get a loan or mortgage, or get your application to college accepted.
But now under current Texas laws, many of these offenses can be removed legally from your record through the expunction process
If your case was dismissed, acquitted or not prosecuted, you may be eligible to have your record expunged. Once expunged, the release, dissemination or use of expunged records by any agency is prohibited. The Texas expunction procedure (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 55) allows you to expunge an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, community supervision or a Class C Misdemeanor that resulted in deferred adjudication probation (community supervision). In Texas, if a person does qualify to expunge their criminal record, they can remove or erase their arrest, booking and court proceedings from the local, state, and federal records. When you are granted an expunction of an arrest in Texas, all records of the arrest itself, jail detention and fingerprints and DNA sample(s) if taken are destroyed! Your record would be as clean as if the event never took place. The release, dissemination or use of expunged records by any agency is prohibited “for any purpose.” Section 55.03 specifies that unless being questioned under oath in court, you may deny the occurrence of the arrest and expunction order for all purposes— including when applying for government and law enforcement jobs. Also with the issues of identity theft, you may even have something on your background that was not you! A new beginning is just ahead.
If you have been successful on deferred adjudication probation, you may be able to control access to your record through an Order for Non-Disclosure. To qualify to have your case sealed under an order of non-disclosure, you must have been given deferred adjudication (community service) and successfully completed that probation period.
Once you have completed deferred adjudication community supervision under CCP art. 42.12 and the statutory waiting period for your offense has passed you may be eligible to have your records sealed by petitioning the court for non-disclosure of your criminal records pursuant (Government Codes 411.081(d)-(h)).
Once sealed, you may then legally and truthfully deny your criminal conviction. This order prohibits the government from disclosing your criminal conviction to the public and prevents a private entity that compiles and disseminates for compensation criminal record information from compiling or disseminating information that is covered by the order of non-disclosure. The state will be allowed to disclose information about the case to other criminal justice agencies for criminal justice or regulatory licensing purposes or any agency or entity listed in Section 411.081(i).
However, sealing a record is not the same as expunging a record. Sealing prevents the release of your record to the public; however, the record will stay available to the law enforcement community and to certain state agencies such as most state licensing agencies. In any subsequent criminal proceeding, the information can still be used against you.