FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are my deferred adjudication records public even if the criminal case was eventually “dismissed” by the judge?
2. How long does it take for the court to grant an Order of Expunction or Order of Nondisclosure?
3. Do I ever have to disclose the arrest or court case after my Order of Expunction or Order of Nondisclosure is granted?
4. What is the difference between an Order of Expunction and an Order of Nondisclosure?
5. Will the expunged or "sealed" records still show up on a routine criminal background check?
6. Do I have to go to court for the hearing on my Expunction or Nondisclosure case?
7. How do the agencies know the Order of Nondisclosure or Order of Expunction was granted by the judge?
8. What if I do not know exactly what is on my Texas criminal record?
9. Are there any instances when the criminal justice agencies can still disclose my criminal history records after an Order of Nondisclosure?
10. What if my criminal records are still being disclosed after an Order of Expunction or Order of Nondisclosure has been granted by the courts?


1. Are my deferred adjudication records public even if the criminal case was eventually “dismissed” by the judge?

Yes. Although many Texans mistakenly think that deferred adjudication records are removed from their criminal history upon successful completion of the community supervision (“probation”) period, the law does not provide for automatic deletion of their criminal records related to the case.


2. How long does it take for the court to grant an Order of Expunction or Order of Nondisclosure?

Currently, regardless of who you hire as your attorney, the expungement process will probably take between 4-9 months, depending on the county where the case is filed. For a Petition for Nondisclosure, you can expect the process to take between 4-5 months in most cases. If you are concerned about having the offense disclosed on a background check prior to it being expunged or sealed, the Firm will gladly write a letter on your behalf to explain that the offense will most likely be sealed or expunged and may not be used against you for any purpose after the Order of Expunction or Order of Nondisclosure is actually granted by the courts.


3. Do I ever have to disclose the arrest or court case after my Order of Expunction or Order of Nondisclosure is granted?

You can deny the occurrence of the arrest and the existence of the expungement unless you are involved in a subsequent criminal proceeding and questioned about the arrest for which the records have been expunged. In that instance, only the fact that the matter in question has been expunged can be disclosed. On employment applications, housing applications, and any other applications, you can deny the arrest or court case that is the subject of your Order of Expunction or Order of Nondisclosure.


4. What is the difference between an Order of Expunction and an Order of Nondisclosure?

An Order of Expunction results in the "erasure" of all references and records of the case from public records. The Texas Department of Public Safety (the "DPS") also requests any federal depository to return and destroy any records in their possession. In contrast, an Order of Nondisclosure requires the Texas DPS to send a copy of the order to all government agencies that possess the records with an instruction to "seal" the records, but not destroy them. The government agencies may not release the "sealed" records to the general public but may provide the records to certain exempt state agencies or entities. Lastly, the "sealed" records from an Order of Nondisclosure may still be used against an individual in a subsequent Texas criminal prosecution.


5. Will the expunged or "sealed" records still show up on a routine criminal background check?

In most cases, the answer is no. An Order of Expunction prohibits the release, maintenance, dissemination, or use of the expunged records and files for any purpose. Similarly, an Order of Nondisclosure will prevent government agencies and entities from releasing the offense records to members of the general public. However, some government agencies and entities (e.g., Texas Education Agency, Texas Board of Law Examiners, etc.) are statutorily exempted from the Nondisclosure Act and entitled to view the records. Therefore, for Nondisclosures, a background check conducted by  these exempt entities (such as criminal justice agencies, school districts, public hospitals, certain state licensing boards, etc.) may still reveal your "sealed" offense.


6. Do I have to go to court for the hearing on my Expunction or Nondisclosure case?

Although Mr. Deese will appear in court for you as your lawyer if your case requires a hearing, sometimes the court also requires the client to appear as well. If you live out of state or in a distant county, the Firm will make every effort to have the court excuse your presence at the hearing.


7. How do the agencies know the Order of Nondisclosure or Order of Expunction was granted by the judge?

Once the judge grants the Order of Nondisclosure, the court sends it to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The DPS then sends the Order of Nondisclosure to all of the government agencies with records of the arrest or case information and also informs all of the private purchasers of the Texas DPS Criminal Record Database that the records must no longer be released due to the Order of Nondisclosure.

Similarly, after the judge grants the Order of Expunction for your case, a copy of the order is sent to the government agencies or entities listed in your petition. In addition, a copy of the expungement is sent to the DPS, which then informs the federal depository of criminal records and the private purchasers of the Texas DPS Criminal Record Database that the records have been expunged by court order.


8.
What if I do not know exactly what is on my Texas criminal record?

If you do not have a copy of the records from your case, you can generally obtain this information from the clerk of the records department at the courthouse where you were tried and/or from the records department of the police department that arrested you. If your case was handled by the county courts, then you would need to visit the county clerk in order to get a copy of your records. For felony cases, you would visit the district clerk's office in the county where your criminal prosecution occurred. Alternately, you can visit the DPS website by clicking here for instructions on obtaining your complete criminal record history.


9. Are there any instances when the criminal justice agencies can still disclose my criminal history records after an Order of Nondisclosure?

A criminal justice agency may disclose the records to other criminal justice agencies for criminal justice or regulatory licensing purposes. The records may also still be provided to certain exempted entities as provided for by the Texas Government Code. These exempted entities include school districts, public hospitals, certain state licensing boards, etc.


10. What if my criminal records are still being disclosed after an Order of Expunction or Order of Nondisclosure has been granted by the courts?

Under Article 55.04 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, any person who has been informed of the existence of a valid Order of Expunction who knowingly releases, disseminates, or otherwise uses the records or files is guilty of committing a Class B misdemeanor. Likewise, with regard to Orders of Nondisclosure, the Texas Government Code provides that it is also a Class B misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally obtain, use or disclose criminal history record information in an unauthorized manner or for an unauthorized purpose. In addition, it may even give rise to a felony offense as outlined in the Texas Government Code.