Q: I was arrested in Austin/Travis County, but the case was dismissed. Is that on my record?
A: Yes. Unless you take affirmative steps to have the information sealed or expunged, the records regarding your arrest are always part of the public record.
Q: I got deferred adjudication probation in Austin/Travis County. Can I get an expunction?
A: No. Expunction is not available if there was any court-ordered probation. But you may be eligible for an order of nondisclosure.
Q: If my case was dismissed, won’t it be expunged after a certain period of time?
A: No. Expunction never happens automatically.
Q: My case was dismissed and my attorney said it wouldn’t be on my record. Do I still need an expunction?
A: Yes. Unless your case was expunged or an order of nondisclosure was granted, your record is still open to the public, no matter what your attorney, judge, or anyone else told you.
Q: I have had background checks and my arrest didn’t show up. Does that mean it was expunged?
A: No. Unless a district judge granted an expunction, your case is not expunged. It may be that a particular background check company does not have your information in its database, but that doesn’t mean the DPS, law enforcement, and other background check companies don’t.
Q: Can a dismissed case really be held against me?
A: Yes. I have had clients denied jobs, promotions, and apartments who were told it was because of their criminal record, even when their cases were dismissed. Every employer and landlord is different. If you have any criminal history at all, there is no telling how it may be used against you.
Q: Won’t a DPS background check show that my case was dismissed?
A: Not necessarily. Arrests are always reported to DPS, but the disposition of the cases may or may not be reflected in their files. In many cases, the DPS background check will say “Disposition: Held.” That’s exactly how it looks when a case is still pending.
Q: If I am eligible for an expunction, is it guaranteed that the judge will order it?
A: Nothing in life is guaranteed, but an expunction is something you’re either entitled to or you’re not. And if you are entitled to an expunction, I guarantee I will help you get it.
Q: I was convicted, paid a fine, got credit for time served, pled guilty, got probation, etc.
A: Sorry. If you were convicted, the only way to have your record expunged is to get a pardon from the Governor, then go through the expunction process. Governor Perry has been in office for over 13 years, and has issued fewer than 200 pardons.
Q: What is the difference between expunction and nondisclosure?
A: Available only if the case was dismissed without probation, expunction has the effect of completely destroying your criminal record as if it never existed, and is available for any charge. Nondisclosure has the effect of sealing your record from the public, although the records still exist. Nondisclosure is available only if you have successfully completed deferred adjudication, and is not available for some charges.
Q: I successfully completed a term of deferred adjudication probation, and my case was dismissed. Is that still on my record?
A: Yes. The records of your arrest, prosecution, and probation are all public records.
Q:I got probation, but not deferred adjudication. Do I still qualify for nondisclosure?
A: No. When you are granted regular or “straight” probation, you have been convicted. Under current law, convictions are not eligible for nondisclosure.
Q: If I get an order of nondisclosure, does that mean my record is sealed from everyone?
A: No, there are certain exceptions you should be aware of. Law enforcement agencies and certain other state agencies may still be granted access to it.