Having certain blemishes on your criminal record sealed from public access, also called an expunction, is a way to prevent the mistakes of your past from continuing to impact your future. After all, your arrest, trial and conviction are all part of the public record, which means everyone from potential landlords to employers will see those details if they perform a background check.
In an expunction, you asked the state of Texas to seal your records so that private individuals cannot access them. Although state prosecutors and law enforcement will still be able to see the previous arrest information, other people will not.
However, the requirements for an expunction in Texas are relatively strict. Is it even possible to secure an expunction if you plead guilty to an offense?
The typical requirements for an expunction include not getting convicted
Under Texas law, expunctions are generally available for those who get arrested but don’t wind up charged with a crime, those who get charged but later have their charges dropped and those who successfully defeat criminal charges.
Pleading guilty or getting convicted by a jury or judge in most cases will preclude you from requesting that the state seal your record. Still, there are at least two circumstances in which someone who pleads guilty could theoretically secure an expunction or sealing of their records.
Those who successfully appeal a conviction can ask for an expunction
Sometimes, a conviction is due to the inclusion of inappropriate evidence or other significant issues that resulted in an unfair trial. If the courts decide to reverse a conviction as part of an appeal, you may then be able to have the records of the initial conviction be sealed.
Those placed on deferred adjudication can ask for non-disclosure
In circumstances where the courts convict someone or accept a guilty plea and place the defendant on unadjudicated probation, that person could eventually request a non-disclosure or sealing of their records.
Provided that the defendant completes their probation and does not get charged with another crime, in many cases, they could ask for the record to get sealed after an appropriate amount of time, although certain offenses are not eligible for this process.