By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
There are several steps I take when trying to help someone clean-up their criminal record.
The first and most important question is what are we dealing with? Your lawyer needs to know (1) the charges brought against you and (2) what the outcome of those charges.
This is where the analysis gets a bit tricky.
Virtually any Texas case that resulted in a final conviction will be very difficult to work with. There are always remote possibilities of continuing appeals or perhaps even a pardon, but those are another topic for another day. Really, if your previous case resulted in a final conviction — regardless of classification, there simply aren’t many ways to mitigate your record that isn’t a long-shot.
Many cases where someone has successfully completed deferred adjudication for a class b misdemeanor or above may result in what is known as a non-disclosure. A non-disclosure, in a nutshell, is a sealing of your criminal record so that only law enforcement and governmental entities are privy to your record. Non-disclosures are discretionary which means that it is up to the Judge to say yes or no. Also, a person is not eligible for a non-disclosure for 2 years after they are off of deferred in a misdemeanor, or 5 years for a felony. Additionally, the legislature has cherry-picked certain offenses as not being eligible for non-diclsosures even where deferred is successfully completed. The best example is where the court enters an affirmative finding of family violence.
And then there are expunctions which, frankly, is the goal in every criminal case. An expunction under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 55 is a complete destruction of your arrest record. You can read about expunctions in the link I provided, but generally speaking, an expunction is typically available when the State is legally barred from prosecuting you for whatever reason. The main reason is generally an acquittal (which creates a double-jeopardy bar). Also, as you can see in the statute, most class c misdemeanors allow for expunctions upon successfully completing deferred adjudication and the Statute of limitation expiring.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any situation you should consult an attorney directly.