Expunction & Nondisclosure
In Houston, like everywhere else, the digital age has ushered in more access to people’s personal information than ever. With that, it has become more and more difficult to find a job, rent an apartment or obtain a loan with a criminal record. Fortunately, in Texas there is a procedure where, under certain circumstances a person’s record can be made unavailable to those who seek to find more information about applicants.
Expunction (expungement in other jurisdictions) is generally only available in Texas on the dismissal of a criminal case or a finding of not guilty. With expunction, a criminal defense attorney like Michael Pham can file a motion with the court ordering expunction of the records. The judge will consider several factors, including prior criminal history, the type of case and the statute of limitations in determining whether or not to grant the motion. If granted, all information regarding arrest and prosecution is purged from the applicant’s. Any paper records are returned to the court and destroyed and all digital or electronic records are deleted from law enforcement information systems. So, if a criminal background check is run, nothing can be found regarding that arrest.
Note also that while this relief is available only to people found not guilty or who have had their cases dismissed, there are many other dispositions in Texas that fall under this category. For instance if someone has entered into a pre-trial diversion program or has been offered deferred adjudication for certain offenses, expunction is potentially an available alternative to them provided all of the conditions of their program were met.
Non-Disclosure is not as broad as expunction, but in many cases can be equally as helpful. Should a court grant an application for an order of non-disclosure, law enforcement officials and government agencies are prohibited from revealing the information to the public. In effect, the records are sealed. However, under certain governmental agencies can still access the records, such as state licensing and regulatory agencies, schools, hospitals, and state, county, and municipal hiring authorities.
While expunction is only available for Class C misdemeanors in Texas, non-disclosure is a remedy that is available for all other crimes. As with expunction, the examining court will look at all the factors surrounding the case including prior criminal offenses and the nature of the offense that the petitioner is seeking to seal before determining if the record should be sealed to private individuals.
Especially in expunction and non-disclosure cases, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney like Mr. Pham can often make the difference between carrying a criminal record around, which can close many doors, and the prospect of a new job, apartments or loan. If you or a loved one needs expunction or non-disclosure of your case, and want an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, contact Houston attorney Michael H. Pham at (713) 236-7791.