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Escaping the hardship a criminal record can bring in Texas

Those arrested or convicted of crimes can face a lifetime of employment and housing discrimination. For those who qualify, seeking an expunction or order of non-disclosure can provide a level playing field in these areas.
 
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    February 09, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In Texas, having a criminal record can make your life significantly harder, even if you were never convicted of the offense. As it is standard procedure during job interviews and apartment applications to ask whether the applicant was ever arrested or has a criminal record, many of those with criminal backgrounds are denied employment and housing that they otherwise qualify for.

Fortunately, in Texas, if you have been arrested, had criminal charges dropped or have been convicted of a minor crime, relief may be available in the form of an expunction of your criminal record (also called expungement) or an order for non-disclosure.

Expunction in Texas

The right of ex-offenders to seek expunction of their criminal records is controlled by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Under the law, expunction is available if:
- Your case was dismissed or the charges against you were dropped
- You were found not guilty of the charges
- You were convicted of the charges, but they were successfully overturned on appeal

In addition to the above instances, you may also be eligible for expunction if you were convicted of a minor crime. Under the law, those convicted of Class C misdemeanors, but receive deferred adjudication (not jail time) are also eligible for expunction. Eligible crimes under the law include (but are not limited to):
- Disorderly conduct
- Passing bad checks
- Simple assault
- Minor in possession of alcohol or tobacco
- Open containers in motor vehicles
- Criminal trespass
- Petty theft
- Gambling
- Driving under the influence as a minor

Those who successfully petition the court for expunction of their criminal records do not have to disclose on future rental, employment and other applications the existence of their arrest or conviction. Once a court grants expunction, the criminal and arrest records are destroyed.

Orders for non-disclosure

If you do not qualify for expunction of your criminal records, you may qualify to apply for an order for non-disclosure. Unlike expunction, this is a court order that prohibits public entities from disclosing your criminal background to other parties. However, the records themselves are not destroyed. Under Texas law, five conditions must be met to qualify for an order for non-disclosure:
- You must have been placed on deferred adjudication for your offense.

- You must have successfully completed deferred adjudication.

- You must not have been convicted of certain offenses such as sex crimes, domestic violence charges and most violent crimes.

- You must have waited a certain period after the dismissal of your charges. The required period is 0-2 years for misdemeanors and up to five years for felonies.

- You must not have been convicted (or received deferred adjudication for) any criminal offenses during a certain period, excluding fine-only offenses (e.g. traffic tickets).

If a court grants your request for non-disclosure, you do not have to disclose the crime that is the subject of the order on employment or housing applications. However, your conviction may still be visible to law enforcement and certain governmental bodies and can be used against you in any subsequent criminal charges.

An attorney can help

The law surrounding expunction and non-disclosure orders is full of exceptions. It is therefore important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can fully advise you on your eligibility and work to ensure the best possible outcome.

Article provided by Jim Ross & Associates, P.C.
Visit us at www.jimrosscriminallaw.com



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