With the advent of the Internet, access to personal information is easier than ever. When you apply for a job, a criminal background check is routine. When you apply for a mortgage or college admission, expect to have your background checked. For most people, this is not a problem. However, if you were charged with a crime in the past, it can prevent you from obtaining your desired goals.
In Texas, there are two options available to clear your adult criminal record, although both options have many restrictions. An expunction of criminal records may be available if:
- The charges against you were subsequently dropped
- You were acquitted
- You were found guilty, but the conviction was later overturned
The second way to clear your record is through non-disclosure. This may be available to you if you were granted a deferred adjudication probation. This means that you were not technically convicted because the judge did not specifically find you guilty of the offense. Instead, the judge found that there was enough evidence that a finding of guilt could have been made. Non-disclosure is available for some misdemeanors after two years.
In certain circumstances, you may not be eligible for either expunction or non-disclosure, such as if you completed straight probation or were convicted of murder or sex offenses. In those cases, the only ways to clear your record are to win a pardon from the governor or the president, or to file a writ of habeas corpus — long shot chances at best.
In you are granted either an expunction or non-disclosure, private individuals and businesses cannot learn about your criminal case. This means that you do not have to disclose this event on your job application, mortgage application, or college admission form. However, the police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other governmental enforcement agencies can still see the sealed records.
There are many excellent reasons to seal your record. Your best bet is to contact an experienced San Antonio criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.