What's the Difference Between Expunction and Nondisclosure?

In Texas, convicted individuals have two different options for cleaning their criminal record – expunction and nondisclosure. With both processes, if granted, your record will be sealed and no longer visible to the public. This protects your past from potential employers, for instance, and legally gives you a clean slate, as you are not required to disclose the mark on your sealed record.

That being said, there are also important differences between expunction and nondisclosure, including their eligibility requirements and what exactly they can do. Keep reading this blog post to learn which you may be eligible for and why you might be interested in petitioning for one over the other.

Crimes That Can Be Expunged

Expunction is a process that can permanently remove criminal entries from an adult’s criminal record. Note that it doesn’t completely erase the mark, but it does conceal it from public view, and the defendant can carry on as if the conviction does not exist.

If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, you may qualify for expungement if you were:

  • acquitted of the crime for which you were charged;
  • convicted but subsequently found to be actually innocent;
  • convicted but subsequently pardoned;
  • formally charged by indictment or information and the case against you was later dismissed, and the statute of limitations has expired; or
  • arrested but not formally charged and you satisfy the waiting period (below).

Before filing for expunction if you were arrested but not charged, you must let the following amount of time elapse before filling out your petition:

  • Class C misdemeanor – 180 days from the date of arrest
  • Class A or B misdemeanor – 1 year from the date of arrest
  • Felony – 3 years from the date of arrest

The required waiting period may vary for individuals who were acquitted, convicted, but later found to be factually innocent (or were pardoned).

Additionally, close relatives of a deceased person who had a criminal record may also seek expunction on behalf of the deceased person if their record meets the above eligibility requirements.

Petitioning for an Order of Nondisclosure

While expunction removes a conviction from your criminal record, nondisclosure (sealing) merely hides certain offenses from public view but not from criminal justice agencies and certain government entities. However, an order of nondisclosure can nonetheless seal your criminal record and prevent certain agencies from disclosing your criminal history information to the public.

You are eligible to petition for a court order of nondisclosure if you pled guilty or no contest to an offense and have successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision. Generally, there is a 5-year waiting period to seal a felony and a 2-year waiting period to seal serious misdemeanors. If the misdemeanor punishment consisted only of a fine, there is no waiting period.

Most misdemeanor convictions are eligible for sealing, though certain offenses are not eligible for an order of disclosure:

  • any offense requiring sex offender registration;
  • aggravated kidnapping;
  • human trafficking;
  • injury to a child, a disabled person, or an elderly person;
  • stalking;
  • a family violence offense; and
  • murder.

If you have questions about your post-conviction relief options, particularly whether you are eligible for expunction and/or nondisclosure, The Clark Law Firm can help. We can take a look at the convictions you seek to clean from your record and help you file your petition for expunction or nondisclosure if the offense qualifies. We can also clarify the eligibility requirement you need to meet, including completing your sentence and the required waiting period.

Contact The Clark Law Firm to clean up your criminal record and get started on the clean slate you deserve.


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