A criminal record can significantly impact an individual’s life in a negative way. Fortunately, the State of Texas provides the legal mechanisms of expungement and nondisclosure to mitigate this for some people. While both aim to limit the visibility of a person’s criminal history, expungement and nondisclosure differ in terms of eligibility criteria, processes, and their respective outcomes. Read on to learn more.


Expungement in Texas


Expungement, also known as expunction, is a legal process in Texas that allows individuals to completely erase their criminal records. When a criminal record is expunged, it is as if the offenses recorded never occurred in the eyes of the law. It is important to note, however, that expungement is not available for all types of offenses in the Lone Star State. Generally, criminal records are eligible for expungement in scenarios such as


  1. Acquittal or dismissal of a case
  2. Full pardon for an offense from the Governor of Texas
  3. Cases resulting from identity theft
  4. Certain juvenile offenses


The first step of the expungement process in Texas is filing a petition with the court where the offense occurred. Necessary documentation, such as arrest records and court documents, must be submitted along with the petition. If the court grants the expungement, all records related to the offense, including arrest records, court records, and law enforcement files, will be destroyed or returned to the petitioner, effectively erasing the criminal record from all public records.

Nondisclosure in Texas


Nondisclosure is another legal remedy available in Texas. While it does not allow for the complete erasure of criminal records, nondisclosure does allow for limited access to those records. Nondisclosure is applicable to a wide range of criminal offenses.


To be eligible for nondisclosure in Texas, specific criteria must be met, including


  1. Successfully completing deferred adjudication, a form of probation where a guilty plea is withheld while the offender completes a probationary period without a conviction. Upon successful completion, one may be eligible for nondisclosure
  2. Finishing a waiting period, generally two years for certain misdemeanors and longer for certain felonies, depending on the specific offense
  3. Not being an ineligible offense such as family violence, sex offenses, and other serious crimes


The process of obtaining a nondisclosure order in Texas involves filing a petition for review with the court that handled the case originally, along with other relevant documentation ensuring eligibility. If the court grants the petition, it will issue a nondisclosure order, limiting the access and dissemination of criminal records to individuals or organizations outside of some government agencies and law enforcement agencies.


In summary, the key distinctions between expungement and nondisclosure are the erasure of criminal records against the limitation of access to them and expungement’s more stringent eligibility criteria and narrower availability. Nevertheless, expungement and nondisclosure are both valuable legal remedies available to individuals seeking to mitigate the impact of having a criminal record in Texas. Understanding the differences between these processes is crucial, but it can be difficult due to the complex nature of the legal system. This is why it is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you make informed decisions about expungement vs nondisclosure in Texas.

If you need professional legal help in Austin, Texas, or the surrounding area, reach out to Brian Erskine of Erskine Law. Mr. Erskine is a board-certified criminal defense attorney in Travis County with experience handling clearing or sealing criminal records via expungement or nondisclosure. Contact Erskine Law for a free consultation.