Having your criminal records sealed can help you rebuild your life after a conviction. Juvenile records are on “restricted access” automatically, which means they’re sealed to anyone but law enforcement from the time the child turns 21. These records may be unsealed only if the child is convicted of another crime.
Unfortunately, expunging or sealing criminal records is not the easiest thing in the world to do if you’re an adult.
Often, you will need help from a Harris County criminal defense lawyer to get your records sealed.
Expungement is only available in certain circumstances but is available for both felonies and misdemeanors.
A criminal record may be expunged when:
- Your charges were dismissed
- You were acquitted
- A conviction was overturned
If you qualify, you should apply to have your records expunged immediately. Otherwise, the charges will remain, and can work against you when you apply for jobs or housing.
Sealing Criminal Records
The official term for a sealed criminal record is “non-disclosure of a criminal record.” This means the record will no longer be shared with potential employers or landlords. Non-disclosure frees you from any obligation to disclose criminal convictions on job applications. It is available only after a defendant has completed a deferred adjudication agreement.
It’s available for some felonies and most misdemeanors, though different crimes have different requirements. For example, if you have deferred adjudication on a felony, you must wait 5 years to apply for non-disclosure. Some misdemeanors require you to wait two years after deferred adjudication.
Felonies involving sexual crimes, kidnapping, burglary, compelling prostitution, murder, assault to children or elderly people, child abandonment or endangerment, violating protective orders, stalking, and family violence may never be sealed.
You can use this tool to check your eligibility.
What if you can’t have your records sealed?
There’s still some hope. There are pushes to ban employers from asking about criminal histories on job applications. In addition, different applications ask for different information. For example, if an application only asks about felony convictions then you don’t have to disclose misdemeanor convictions. Not all jobs perform background checks. And the Texas Workforce Commission does help people with criminal records find jobs.
There are also apartments that do take felons. Second Chance apartments are often more forgiving. Small, private, non-corporate landlords or HUD housing are often more forgiving. Local faith-based organizations can often help you find housing as well. Certain re-entry programs are also designed to help. You can find a great many resources here.
Get Help Today
Ideally, you’ll be able to avoid being convicted of any crime. That starts with hiring the right criminal defense attorney.
If you or a loved one are in trouble, reach out to our team today.
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