“Have you ever been arrested for or charged with a crime?” That sentence appears on almost every job application. Unless the job is for the federal government, lying on a job application is technically not against the law. However, if you have a criminal history and refuse to admit it, you may lose your job, especially if a criminal background check is performed. Having your criminal record expunged is one way to avoid this situation.
In certain circumstances, Texas courts allow for the expungement of arrest and conviction records. If your request is granted, any records relating to your arrest or subsequent trial will be sealed. Fingerprints, mug shots, DNA collection, trial transcripts, and other arrest records will be included. It will be as if the crime never occurred. This enables you to respond to the application question with a qualified “No,” and you will be telling the truth in the eyes of the court.
How do Expunctions and Non-Disclosures Work?
A charge of driving while intoxicated can have serious implications. A defendant who is convicted of a DWI may face the seizure of his license, fines and even jail or prison time. These consequences can also continue to follow you after your sentence has been completed: a DWI conviction will show up on your criminal record and can be accessed by potential landlords, employers and lenders. Even if you were charged but you were later found not guilty or had your case dismissed, your charge will still show up on background checks, possibly acting as an obstacle to future employment and personal advancement.
This does not have to be your fate. If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Texas and had your case dropped, were proved innocent in court or had to endure a period of deferred probation, you may be able to have your charge sealed or expunged.
The basics of expungement and non-disclosure
In Texas, criminal records come in three varieties: open, undisclosed (or sealed) and expunged. An open record is available to the public and can be viewed by prospective employers, lenders and screening agencies. A sealed record is not visible to the general public and can only be viewed under certain circumstances (for example, by law enforcement offices when screening job applicants for criminal activity.) Finally, an expunged record is completely erased, as though it had never existed.
Prerequisites for expungement and non-disclosure
If you’ve been found guilty of a class B or A misdemeanor or certain types of felony and you’ve only had to complete a term of deferred adjudication probation, you can apply to prevent the disclosure of your record to the general public. If you were found not guilty or your case was declined, dismissed, resolved with a deferred disposition or ended in a class C misdemeanor conviction, your record is eligible for expungement.
Obviously, expungement is more desirable than non-disclosure. The most important practical difference between the two has to do with employment. If your DWI is undisclosed, your record can still be pulled by potential employers if you apply for a position with law enforcement or an equivalent agency.
Expungement of Juvenile Records
If a minor is arrested and later convicted of a crime, they can petition the courts for an expungement when they reach the age of 18. If there was only one criminal incident, the expungement will be granted. However, if the offense involved a sexual crime, an expungement will not be granted.
To file a petition for expungement, you must fill out the appropriate application form. This will include all of your personal contact information as well as case-specific information. You will need all of the facts surrounding your arrest and trial, as well as proof that you completed any sentence or probation.
A hearing will be scheduled once the application has been filed. You may file your applications on your own, as with most other matters before the court, but you would be better served by having legal representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to tell you right away if you are eligible for an expungement. They will also be able to advise you on the best course of action to take and any other applicable waiting period.
How to File For Expungement and Non-Disclosure of DWI
You can file to have your Texas DWI charge or conviction cleared by obtaining, filling out and filing a Petition for Expunction or a Petition for Non-Disclosure. Both of these forms should be available at your local law enforcement office or courthouse.
Dropped or declined DWI charges can be expunged immediately, but most convictions carry a two- or five-year waiting period starting from the completion of your probation before they can be sealed or expunged.
If you’re still feeling the consequences of your DWI charge and you’ve been found not guilty or have completed your probation, look into having your record cleared. Non-disclosure and expungement are easy to obtain if you meet the requirements.