The legal definition of expungement means that the court seals and destroys the records of both the arrest and any court proceedings so that neither is viewable by anyone. Under Texas law, a person is allowed to expunge an arrest if did not end in a conviction or some type of community supervision. A person can also expunge class C misdemeanors if it resulted in a successful completion of a deferred adjudication. It is then against Texas law to use expunged records by any entity “for any purpose.” The person with the expunged records can deny the arrest and the existence of the expunged records and even the expunction order unless being questioned under oath in court. This denial can be carried to include when applying for government and law enforcement jobs. With an increasing use of public records by more than 80 percent of employers conducting background checks, expungement is definitely a great investment. It is typical in Texas for an expungement to take about 4 to 5 months. The courts are said to operate on a “first come, first served” basis, so the quicker a person begins this process, the quicker the record is expunged and the person’s name is cleared. A person involved in a criminal court proceeding must be truthful about his or her arrest for which the records have been expunged. Yet, in that instance, only the point that the records in question have been expunged can be disclosed. The person has no obligation to go into any details of the arrest or count proceedings.
Non-Disclosure is very different than expunging. An expungement order requires the destruction of all references and records of the person’s case from public records. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) must also request any federal repository to return any copies to the DPS who then destroys them. The actual court record ordering the expungement is itself destroyed 60 days to 1 year after issuance of the order. A non-disclosure requires the DPS to send a copy of the non-disclosure order to all law enforcement agencies, jails, and other entities that are typically given a copy of these types of activities. These places that are sent the non-disclosure order are then ordered to seal the records, but not to destroy them. Also, these facilities cannot disclose the offense, but must retain the records. This prior criminal record can be used against the person in a subsequent prosecution. A person’s case is eligible for only one of these two services and the eligible service is based on the sentence given for that case. Whereas a person has an attorney for his or her case, the person should us the lawyer to make sure the expunging or non-disclosure action is done properly and completely the first time so that it does not get rejected or cost months of delay, to handle any objections from the district attorney, and to have the attorney in court to argue anything needed. The lawyer can also write letters to the person’s potential employers to let these employers know that the case has been re-opened for expungement or non-disclosure and will soon have the person’s record cleared.