Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains general answers to the most common questions about expunction and non-disclosure in Texas, and how these cases are handled in Harris County and Montgomery County, Texas.

Expunction & Non-Disclosure

  • What types of cases are eligible for expunction?

    In Texas, if an arrest did not lead to a conviction, it may be eligible for expunction, which involves obtaining a court order to have the arrest records destroy and allows you to legally deny the arrest ever occurred on an employment application or apartment rental application. The law even allows you to deny it under oath in a civil case.

    You may be entitled to an expunction if you were arrested but never charged, if you completed pre-trial diversion, if your case was dismissed, if it was no-billed by a grand jury, if you were acquitted at trial (i.e., found “not guilty”), if someone else was arrested using your name without your permission, or if you were convicted but later pardoned.

  • Do deferred prosecution cases qualify for expunction?

    Deferred Prosecution is a type of dismissal agreement in Montgomery County that is sometimes an option in pre-trial negotiations for class A and B misdemeanors and for non-violence felonies when the defendant has a clean criminal history. It results in a dismissal, which does qualify for expunction if the program is successfully completed. Although the names are similar, deferred prosecution is very different from deferred adjudication, which is a type of probation.

    Deferred Disposition is a similar program for class C misdemeanors filed in Montgomery County JP Court or the Austin Municipal Court and success with it also leads to an expunction-eligible dismissal.

  • Do deferred adjudication cases qualify for expunction?

    Expunction is an option for deferred adjudication only in Class C misdemeanor cases. If you were sentenced to deferred adjudication probation for a Class A or B misdemeanor or any level of felony, you are not eligible for an expunction. However, you may still qualify for an Order of Non-Disclosure, which seals your arrest record from access by the general public.
  • Is non-disclosure the same as expunction?

    Like expunction, non-disclosure allows you to legally deny that an arrest occurred, even on employment applications. Unlike expunction, when an order of non-disclosure is granted, the records are still available to law enforcement; to certain state agencies that are responsible for licensing and certification, care-giving functions, and regulating certain professions; and to certain private entities that are responsible for the safety of children and the elderly or that hire employees for security-sensitive positions.
  • What if I entered a plea of guilty or no contest, or if I was convicted at trial?

    A no contest plea has the same impact as a guilty plea on your Texas criminal history. Any case that resulted in a conviction, whether by plea or trial, is not eligible for expunction or non-disclosure unless you are one of those rare and lucky souls who was pardoned by the governor.
  • Do straight probation cases qualify for expunction or non-disclosure?

    Unlike deferred adjudication probation, a straight probation case does not qualify for expunction or non-disclosure because it counts as a conviction.
  • Can other cases impact my eligibility for expunction or non-disclosure?

    If you were arrested and ultimately convicted of any offense arising out of the arrest, then the arrest may not be expunged. You can also lose the right to expunction by jumping bail or violating the terms of probation.

    You can become disqualified for non-disclosure if you are convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any offense more serious than a traffic ticket while you are on deferred adjudication probation or during any required post-discharge waiting period. Also, anyone previously convicted of certain offenses are permanently disqualified from non-disclosure, even if they successfully complete deferred adjudication probation. Some such offenses are aggravated kidnapping, murder, endangering a child, offenses that require sex offender registration, offenses involving family violence, and stalking.

  • How do I find out if a case is on my criminal history?

    You can get a copy of your official criminal history from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). In Austin, you can expedite the process by going directly to the DPS office on Denson Drive. If your DPS criminal history is clean they will provide a certified letter stating that you have “No record on file”.
  • Who decides if I am eligible for expunction or non-disclosure?

    In most cases, if you qualify for an expunction, then you have a legal right to have the records of your arrest and prosecution deleted and destroyed. Non-disclosure is different in that qualifying for non-disclosure means that a judge will have the authority to order the records sealed from the general public if he or she believes that sealing them would be in the best interest of justice. In other words, judges are not required to grant non-disclosure to everyone that qualifies.
  • Is a waiting period required for expunction or non-disclosure?

    In most cases, a waiting period is required before filing a petition for expunction or non-disclosure. Arrests for lower level offenses generally have a shorter waiting period than those for higher level crimes but the precise duration depends on the specific offense and the disposition of the case.
  • How long before an expunction or non-disclosure is effective?

    It typically takes 60-90 days to get a petition for expunction or non-disclosure before a judge in Montgomery County due to statutory notice requirements and depending on how quickly we gather the necessary documents and complete the required paperwork. Once the order is granted, you can deny the arrest on employment applications, but the Texas Department of Public Safety may take a few weeks to seal your records after non-disclosure is granted and several months to confirm that records of an arrest were deleted and destroyed pursuant to an expunction order.
  • Can you help me if my case was not in Harris and Montgomery County?

    Yes, I take cases in Harris and Montgomery County, Texas and surrounding counties.