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Austin Record Sealing Lawyer

Are old charges on your criminal record is still getting in the way of your future? Find out how to get your criminal record sealed by consulting with an Austin criminal record sealing attorney.

As anyone who’s been charged with a crime will attest, a criminal record can have a significant impact on your life that extends well beyond incarceration and paying a fine.

Getting a job becomes harder. Applying for housing in good neighborhoods can seem impossible. Even securing a loan or going back to school is increasingly difficult.

While securing an expunction is always preferable to merely sealing a case, not every case will qualify. In most situations your case must have been dismissed in some way to qualify for expunction, and you must not have received any supervised probation. Examples of common expunction-eligible cases would be an acquittal at trial, a dismissal of charges, or completion of a non-supervised Court Diversion program.

Record Sealing Lawyer signing document

Order of Nondisclosure of Criminal Records

If you do not qualify for a full expunction of your records, there’s a second option available: an order of nondisclosure of criminal records . This remedy is commonly referring to as "sealing" and will effectively seal this portion of your history and make it unavailable to the public. After an order of nondisclosure of criminal records is filed for a case, DPS and state personnel are prohibited from providing any private entity or individual with any information about your charge.

Knowing how to apply for a nondisclosure order, or even if you qualify,  isn’t always easy, . To find out if an order of nondisclosure is an option for you, speak with an Austin record sealing lawyer from Tillman Braniff, PLLC.

What Does an Order for Nondisclosure Do?

In contrast to an expunction, an order for nondisclosure will not actually require all records of your arrest to be destroyed, but it does prohibit the release of that information to the public.The record will still exist, but it is kept behind an "official" curtain where it is only accessible by certain official state entities and agents. Police and prosecutors can still see it, as well as state licensing boards (for any professional license), and anything affiliated with the State of Texas. The benefit of an order for nondisclosure is that anyone in the general public seeking your criminal history will no longer be able to see it.

This might sound like a runner-up prize, but the benefits to your future wellbeing and opportunities are enormous. Record sealing effectively re-opens a number of doors that closed when you were charged—and allows you to protect your personal and professional reputation.

Who Qualifies for Record Sealing?

Unfortunately, record sealing isn’t an option for everyone, and the requirements aren’t always clear. As a starting point, some types of charges cannot ever be sealed: 

  • Murder, aggravated kidnapping; most sex offenses; murder; child abandonment and endangerment; stalking; family violence; and causing injury to children, the elderly, or the disabled; violation of court protection orders or bond conditions. These may not be sealed even if you successfully completed a deferred adjudication probation.
  • Any offense involving Family Violence
  • you were convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for another crime (other than a fine-only traffic ticket) during the required waiting period, if any.

I Completed Deferred Adjudication Probation

Deferred adjudication probation is a special type of community supervision that allows you to NOT have a criminal conviction if you complete all the terms. The court accepts your plea (i.e. acceptance of responsibility) but defers the adjudication, the actual judgment, for the period of your probation. Once you complete the probation, the court dismisses the charge. You are allowed to file a Petition for Nondisclosure after a waiting period expires.

Texas considers some charges more serious than others, so the waiting periods can be different based upon the type of charge:

  • Felony Deferred Adjudication- 5 Years after successfully completing probation.
  • Misdemeanor Deferred Adjudication- 2 Years after completing probation.
  • In many misdemeanor cases the waiting period can be much shorter:                          If your charge is NOT Kidnapping (Chapter 20), Sexual Offenses (Chapter 21), Assaultive Offenses (Chapter 22), Offenses Against the Family (Chapter 25), Disorderly Conduct (Chapter 42), Public Indecency (Chapter 43), Weapons (Chapter 46), Organized Crime (Chapter 71), or any case designated as a Sexual Violent Offense, you may be able to file a petition immediately upon finishing the deferred, possibly 6 months after starting probation. Options are best for First time offenders.

 I Was Actually Convicted. Is There No Way to Seal it?

We always prefer dismissals or deferrals in cases, but sometimes taking a conviction can be unavoidable. The good news is that Texas law now provides for Orders of Nondisclosure on many types of misdemeanor convictions, whether your case resulted in straight probation or jail time. In order to qualify, you must be a first time offender (no prior convictions or deferred adjudications), and the charge must not be an intoxication offense or an organized crime charge.

The waiting periods to file for an Order of Nondisclosure on a conviction:

  • Immediately after completing probation, unless the offense for which you are requesting an order of nondisclosure is one of the misdemeanor offenses listed below; or
  • 2 Years after completing probation if your misdemeanor offense falls under the following Penal Code Chapters:
    • 20 (kidnapping, unlawful restraint, or smuggling of persons),
    • 21 (sexual offenses),
    • 22 (assaultive offenses),
    • 25 (offenses against the family),
    • 42 (disorderly conduct and related offenses),
    • 43 (public indecency offenses), or
    • 46 (weapons offenses)

Can I Seal a DWI Charge?

Due to recent positive changes in Texas law, the answer is often YES. In September of 2019 a law authorizing deferred adjudication probation for DWI's took effect,and a companion framework for non-disclosure of those charges. People who successfully complete their deferred probation and have no prior convictions or deferrals will qualify.

In the past, no deferrals for DWI cases meant there was also no sealing, so people who were actually convicted were stuck with it for life. But today the new law provides an outlet for first-time offenders to keep isolated incidents from affecting their job prospects or living situation.

Find Out if You Can Get an Order for Nondisclosure

Tillman Braniff, PLLC can help you determine if you’re eligible to have your criminal record sealed. We can help you throughout the entire process and give you the best chance for convincing a judge to approve your nondisclosure request.

Learn more during a free, confidential case evaluation with an Austin record sealing lawyer. Just complete the form below or give us a call at 512-236-0505.

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