Under Texas law, those who are convicted of certain criminal offenses could qualify to have their record sealed at a later date. This means that most employers and members of the public wouldn’t have access to those records. Determining whether you qualify to have your own criminal record sealed can be difficult, so if you were arrested for or charged with a sex crime, please call our experienced Houston sex crimes lawyers to learn more about your sealing-related options.
Having one’s criminal record erased is known as expungement, or expunction. This process is initiated by filing a petition to a district court. If expungement is granted, a person’s offense will be removed from his or her record and made inaccessible to certain employers and individuals. It generally takes up to 30 days after the filing of an expungement petition for a hearing to bet set. Then, if the expungement is granted, it will usually take another six months for government and law enforcement agencies to actually destroy the records in question. Most sex crimes, however, do not qualify for expungement. In fact, expungement is usually only permitted in cases where:
- Criminal charges were never actually filed;
- The criminal charges were dismissed;
- The defendant was acquitted;
- A defendant was convicted, but later proven innocent;
- The defendant wasn’t actually tried and the prosecutor recommended expungement;
- The defendant was pardoned; or
- A defendant pleaded guilty or was convicted of a misdemeanor offense as a child.
Fortunately, those who have been convicted of certain sex offenses could still be eligible for an Order of Nondisclosure.
Orders of Nondisclosure
Orders of Nondisclosure, while they don’t necessarily result in the erasure or destruction of a person’s criminal record, do seal records of arrests and court proceedings, so that they can only be seen by certain agencies and law enforcement. They will not, however, like most records of sex crimes, be accessible to the general public.
Can a Sex Offense Charge be Expunged or Sealed?
Someone who has a sex crime on his or her record in Texas will generally not qualify for expungement, an order of nondisclosure, or record sealing if his or her case involved any kind of plea or conviction. If, however, a defendant was never convicted, but still has a record of the arrest or charge, then he or she can ask the court to expunge that information from that record. Courts also often take other factors into consideration when deciding whether expungement of a sex crime record is appropriate, including whether the crime in question was non-violent, how long ago the offense occurred, the ages of the parties involved, whether the offense was consensual, and whether the defendant passed an individual risk assessment.
Experienced Houston Sex Crimes Lawyers
Having a sex crime on one’s record, even if that record just describes an arrest or a dismissed charge, can have serious repercussions, so if you were unfairly accused of a sex crime and have questions about sealing your criminal record, please call (281) 280-0100 to speak with one of the dedicated Houston sex crimes attorneys at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates about your legal options.