I’ve had a few friends recently contact me with the same problem, “I caught a charge back in the day and it is still costing me jobs. What can I do?”
ANSWER: The expunction or non-disclosure can put your past behind you depending on the outcome of your case.
What is an expunction?
The expunction is the best possible option for clearing your criminal record. It is literally hitting the reset button on your past so that you will NEVER have to check “yes” on a criminal background check again. The process of expunction involves a judge ordering any agencies responsible for maintaining your criminal records to destroy them (i.e. the police department).
Because the expunction is such a powerful tool, it can only be applied to a very narrow list of categories. To be eligible for an expunction you must have:
- An arrest for a crime that was never charged;
- A criminal charge that results in a dismissal;
- A jury verdict of not guilty;
- Certain misdemeanor juvenile offenses;
- A successful appeal resulting in an overturned guilty verdict; or
- A conviction for a crime that is later pardoned
In other words, if you served some form of deferred adjudication or probation then you are NOT eligible for an expunction. For those lucky people that do qualify for an expunction, there is a waiting period that must pass before you file an expunction. The waiting period varies for the type of crime seeking to be expunged.
- Class C Misdemeanor = 180 days
- Class A and B misdemeanors = 1 year
- Felonies = 3 years
Unfortunately, very few people will qualify for an expunction because of the narrow standards associated with expunctions. However, all hope is not lost if you don’t qualify for an expunction. The non-disclosure could still be the right choice for you!
What is a non-disclosure?
Similar to the expunction, a non-disclosure is another way to clear your criminal background. When the court issues an order of non-disclosure, they “seal” your criminal records by prohibiting any criminal justice agencies from releasing your criminal records to the public. This means that your employer or apartment complex won’t be able to see a criminal charge on your record that has been sealed.
There are various types of non-disclosures based on the type of offense you were charged with and the plea you accepted. The biggest difference between the expunction and the non-disclosure is that a non-disclosure can still be available to people that successfully completed deferred adjudication or misdemeanor probation. However, there are a few scenarios that will disqualify you from any type of non-disclosure eligibility:
(1) You will not be eligible for a non-disclosure if you received a deferred adjudication or conviction for another offense while you’re ALREADY on deferred or probation for the offense you are attempting to non-disclose. This does not include traffic offenses.
(2) These crimes are never available to be sealed:
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Human Trafficking
- Injury to child, elderly, or disabled
- Any crime that requires you to register as a sex offender
- Any family violence offense**
If you satisfy these above requirements AND you successfully completed a “deferred adjudication” for a misdemeanor or felony then you will likely qualify for a non-disclosure. Additionally, if you are a first-time offenderthat successfully completed “probation” for a misdemeanor then you may also potentially qualify for a non-disclosure. Generally, the waiting period to apply for a non-disclosure is:
- 2 years for Misdemeanors
- 5 years for Felonies
The waiting period begins AFTER you successfully complete your deferred adjudication or probation. Finally, it’s important to know that receiving an order of non-disclosure from a judge is not a right. If the judge that handles your non-disclosure feels that denying your petition is in the “interest of justice” then it is in their power to prevent you from sealing your criminal records. Which is precisely why you should always hire a lawyer to file a non-disclosure on your behalf.
Why should I clear my background?
There’s no substitute for peace of mind. You never know when a potential employer may have a problem with something in your background that everyone else considers harmless. For example, a weed charge could easily prevent you from getting a job that regularly drug tests. Don’t risk your economic future. If you think you are eligible for an expunction or a non-disclosure then pick up the phone and call us at Third Coast Law. Sealing your records involves multiple agencies and can be a lengthy process. Don’t delay, take back your future today!