Many people in Texas face misdemeanor charges and are convicted of the offense. While a misdemeanor offense on your criminal record certainly may not be as serious as a felony offense and likely came with a much lesser sentence, simply having a criminal record with a misdemeanor offense can be problematic. Indeed, from applying for certain jobs to seeking credit, having to report a criminal record can have consequences far beyond the initial sentence associated with the offense and conviction. Even if you were not convicted of the misdemeanor offense but have charges on your record, simply having an arrest record can have negative consequences. As such, you may be wondering if you can have the arrest removed from your record.
Different states use their own language to refer to the removal of a criminal record entirely and the hiding or sealing of the record. In Texas, the removal of a record is known as expunction, while the sealing of a criminal record involves seeking an order of nondisclosure. Our Texas misdemeanor defense lawyers want to provide you with more information about your eligibility for an expunction or an order of nondisclosure.
Eligibility for a Misdemeanor Expunction in Texas
Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, if you have been arrested for a misdemeanor offense (as well as for certain felony offenses), you can be eligible to have your criminal record expunged if you meet one of the following requirements:
- You were acquitted of the charges;
- You were convicted but later found to be innocent of the charges;
- You were convicted but pardoned;
- You were charged for the offense, but the case was dismissed;
- You were charged for the offense, but the statute of limitations expired; or
- You were arrested but you were never charged with the offense.
If you do meet one of the above eligibility requirements, you still may need to go through a waiting period before you can be eligible for expunction. The expunction waiting period will depend upon the severity and class of the criminal offense. For misdemeanor offenses, the following are the required waiting periods before you can seek an expunction:
- 180 days from the date of the arrest for a Class C misdemeanor; or
- 1 year from the date of the arrest for a Class A or Class B misdemeanor.
Sealing Your Record, or Seeking an Order of Nondisclosure for a Misdemeanor Offense
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense in Texas and you are not pardoned or later found to be innocent of the charges—in other words, if you were convicted, served your sentence, and there has been no further action on your conviction—you cannot have your criminal record expunged. Similarly, if you pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense, you cannot have your record expunged. Instead, you can petition the court for an order of nondisclosure. This order is, in effect, a way of sealing your criminal record so that it is not readily accessible by the public. You should know that you cannot have your record sealed if you were convicted of any type of sex offense, as well as family violence crimes and other offenses.
If your sentence only involved a fine, you do not need to go through a waiting period to petition the court for an order of nondisclosure. For misdemeanor convictions that had additional penalties, including jail time, you will need to wait two years after completing the terms of your sentence to petition the court for an order of nondisclosure.
Contact Our Texas Misdemeanor Defense Lawyers
If you need assistance defending against misdemeanor charges, or if you have questions about expunction or record sealing, our Texas misdemeanor defense attorneys are here to help. Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today.