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Texas Criminal Record Expungement FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

This page was designed to help our clients better understand our Texas Criminal Record Expungement service. You will find answers to the questions we are most frequently asked. If your question is related to eligibility requirements please take the free online eligibility test.

Will my record still show up on my background check?

No. The expungement prohibits the release, maintenance, dissemination, or use of the expunged records and files for any purpose. Government records are typically cleared within 60 days of the court agreeing to expunge the case.

However, commercial background check companies may take up to one year to update their records to reflect the expungement. We can expedite the updating of commercial background checks companies and reduce the time it takes from about one year to less than 14 days. See our Expedited Record Clearance Update for information on this important step.

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What is Texas expungement?

Texas expungement seals and destroys your records of the arrest and court case so your record is not viewable by the public.

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Do I have to disclose the arrest or court case after it is expunged?

You can deny the occurrence of the arrest and the existence of the expunction unless there is a criminal proceeding about the arrest for which the records have been expunged. In that instance, only the fact that the matter in question has been expunged can be disclosed. You can deny the case or the arrest on employment applications, housing applications, and any other applications.

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Can I become a schoolteacher, nurse, or other occupation after my Texas criminal record is expunged?

Since the expunged criminal records are destroyed, the arrest and case won’t be considered for the application for employment.

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Can I work in a bank after my Texas criminal record is expunged?

Section 19 of the FDIA (Federal Deposit Insurance Act) allows banks and other financial institutions to bar prospective and current employees who have had “Breach of Trust” or "Dishonesty" convictions from jobs that they are otherwise qualified for even if they had the conviction expunged.

"Dishonesty" means directly or indirectly to cheat or defraud; to cheat or defraud for monetary gain or its equivalent; or wrongfully to take property belonging to another in violation of any criminal statute. Dishonesty includes acts involving want of integrity, lack of probity, or a disposition to distort, cheat, or act deceitfully or fraudulently, and may include crimes which federal, state or local laws define as dishonest. "Breach of trust" means a wrongful act, use, misappropriation or omission with respect to any property or fund which has been committed to a person in a fiduciary or official capacity, or the misuse of one's official or fiduciary position to engage in a wrongful act, use, misappropriation or omission.

Whether a crime involves dishonesty or breach of trust will be determined from the statutory elements of the crime itself. All convictions for offenses concerning the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution of or trafficking in controlled substances are included. Other offenses can include but is not limited to the following: petty theft, grand theft, insufficient checks, burglary, possession of drugs for distribution or sales, embezzlement, fraud, fraud to obtain aid or benefits and money laundering.

If you believe you have a “breach of trust” or "dishonesty" conviction and were denied a position or were terminated from a financial institution because of that offense, there still is another way to obtain that job with a waiver from the FDIC. Speaking with an attorney about your specific circumstances to see if you would qualify for such a waiver from the FDIC is vital.

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Can my expunged criminal record still be used against me?

Expunged records in Texas cannot be used against you unless there is a criminal proceeding about the arrest for which the records have been expunged. In that instance, only the fact that the matter in question has been expunged can be disclosed.

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What is the difference between expungement and non-disclosure in Texas?

Texas expungement law results in the destruction of all references and records of the case from public records. The Department of Public Safety also requests any federal repository to return and destroy them. The court record for expungement is destroyed 60 days to one year after the order is issued.

Non-disclosure requires Department of Public Safety to send a copy of the order to all law enforcement agencies, jails, etc. who are then ordered to seal the records, but not destroy them. So, they cannot disclose the offense, but the records are not destroyed. And the prior criminal record could be used against the person in a subsequent prosecution.

A case is only eligible for one service and what the eligible service is depends on the sentence for that case.

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If I received an order of nondisclosure for a case can I now apply for expungement?

No. If a case is eligible for nondisclosure, then the case is not eligible for expungement.

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What if I received a partial expungement already?

To avoid having to refile for a full expungement, you can probably file a 'motion to enforce the expunction order' to obtain destruction of the records that were retained. (In re R.A., 2012 Tex. App. LEXIS 10960 (Tex. App. El Paso Aug. 28, 2012)). In In re R.A., several criminal justice agencies who were investigating disciplinary charges against the defendant's attorneys were allowed to retain the records temporarily after an acquittal-expunction while the disciplinary investigation was being conducted. The court noted that the expunction order did not include an expiration date for the retention of the files because neither the parties nor the judge knew when the disciplinary proceedings would be over. The court stated that the defendant could file a motion to enforce the expunction order when the proceedings were over.

In the case of a waiting period expunction, we know at the time the partial expunction is granted what date the files will no longer be necessary to the investigation (i.e. the date the SOL runs). Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that the criminal justice agencies who retain the records have a procedure to automatically expunge them upon the expiration of the SOL. Therefore, a motion to enforce the expunction would seem to be the best option available to someone who received a partial expungement under the waiting period subsection.

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What if I was convicted of some of the charges but the others were dismissed?

Cases have been decided both allowing and prohibiting a person to expunge the dismissed charges in a case when they were convicted of the other charges in the case. The First District Court of Appeals, in Ex Parte E.E.H., has held that a person can expunge the dismissed charges, even when convicted of others in the case. However, a person would still remain convicted in the charges that led to the conviction. In the Third District Court of Appeals, Eighth District Court of Appeals, and Eleventh District Court of Appeals the court has held that a person cannot expunge any of the charges in the case, even if dismissed, if convicted of any of the charges.

However, the law has been amended several times and under the new statute, the plain language of the statute looks to “the charge” and not “the arrest” or “charges” in making this threshold determination. If the legislature had said “the person has been released and the charges, if any, have not result in a final conviction,” the plain meaning would call for all the charges of arrest to be considered. Since the legislature left off the S the plain meaning is that an individual charge can meet the requirement for expungement and you do not have to look at the other charges to see if there was a conviction. Perhaps if the previous courts that determined a person is ineligible had been interpreting the current statute, they would have came to an alternate conclusion. Since courts are applying the statute as it applied at the time of the conviction, there is lag in the courts interpretation of this law. Thus the statute under its current version is still up for interpretation. If you would like to file for expungement of your charges that did not lead to a conviction, even though you were convicted of other charges then we can help. We charge $250 per hour for representation in this matter because it is an unusual situation that will require more than a typical case.

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Do I need to hire an attorney or can I proceed with the Texas record expungement on my own?

You have an attorney to (1) make sure the process is done right the first time so your case does not get rejected or cost you months of delay, (2) handle objections from the district attorney, (3) send an attorney to court to argue the case if need be, and (4) write letters to potential employers letting them know that the case has been reopened and will soon have the conviction off of your record.

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Do Texas courts require that I appear in person when I request an expungement?

Although a licensed attorney will appear in court for you, in Texas cases, the judge will frequently require your presence. If you live out of state or if attending the hearing would be a hardship for you, we can ask the court to excuse your presence, but this is not guaranteed.

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How does the attorney know my case details?

Once you sign up we have you fill out a questionnaire on your personal online account. The questionnaire asks questions that influence the outcome of the case and allows us to argue the case before a judge. Although some of the questions may seem simple, the more information and detail that you provide in your answers the better we are able to argue the case in your favor.

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How long does the expunction process take in Texas?

Currently, the Texas expunction typically takes anywhere between four and nine months, depending on county.

We base our estimates of how long a case will take on how long the average is for that service in that state. However, some cases can take less or more time depending on the facts of the case, whether the DA is agreeing or objecting, the age of the case, etc. We work on your case as fast as we can and assist the court and DA in anything they need to get your case heard.

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Can the expungement process be done faster?

The courts work on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, the sooner you sign up, the sooner your case is heard and decided. If helpful, we will gladly write your employer or potential employer a letter letting them know we have reopened the case and are in the process of having your record expunged.

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How do I know what is going on with my case?

We have an online tracking system that is just for your case(s). You will have a user name and password for the account, which will have the information specific to the case. Whenever anything happens in your case, we post the information in your online account so that you can view the status of the case and the progress that is made. If there is no post on your online account, then that means that there is no update in the case. For example, once we update your online account to reflect that we have filed the motion with the court we will update the notes when we hear a response from the court or District Attorney. Depending on the court, a case can take several weeks to months to hear from the court or District Attorney whether there is an objection, hearing, or anything else. If something is taking longer than usual for the court, we will call to obtain status of the case and update your online notes. In addition to posting the status updates in your online account, we will post your case information in the case information so you are aware of the case and future hearings.

Moreover, we post your contract and payment plan information on the online account for you so that you can view all the information and print the necessary content.

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Does it matter if I pled guilty or no contest?

If you pled guilty or no contest then the case is not able to be expunged unless the case was for a misdemeanor class C and you completed deferred adjudication.

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What are the details of the guarantee?

If we are unable to succeed on your case, we give you your money back, except for the fees paid to the court (normally $200 to $450). There is a partial refund if the client does anything to become ineligible after beginning the process.

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Do you have payment plans?

We can create a payment plan that meets your needs. Please view the pricing for details regarding the payment plans.

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What if I don’t know exactly what is on my record?

We will be glad to work with you to get a copy of your record and to review what can be done. We charge a researching fee and we apply that fee to the cost of any service that you hire us to perform.

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I have a class C misdemeanor with deferred adjudication and have completed my deferred adjudication before the two year waiting period. Can I apply for expungement immediately?

Yes as long as the offense was not for any of the following offenses:

abuse of corpse; advertising for placement of child; aiding suicide; assault; bigamy; cruelty to animals; deadly conduct; destruction of flag; discharge of firearm; disorderly conduct; disrupting meeting of procession; dog fighting; false alarm; harassment; harboring runaway child; hoax bombs; indecent exposure; interference with emergency telephone call; leaving child in a vehicle; making a firearm accessible to a child; possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sale of switchblade knife or knuckles; public lewdness; riot; silent or abusive calls to 9-1-1 service; terrorist threat; unlawful carrying of handgun by license holder; unlawful carrying weapons; unlawful possession of firearm; unlawful restraint; unlawful transfer of certain weapons; violation of protective order preventing offense caused by bias or prejudice. If the offense was any of the listed offenses, then you must wait two years from the date you completed deferred adjudication.

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If my Texas case was dismissed, is there a waiting period before I can apply for expungement?

Yes. For misdemeanors there is a two year waiting period and for most felonies there is a three year waiting period. For more serious felonies there is a longer waiting period. The waiting period begins to run from the date of arrest or incident.

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Is there any way to get my record expunged before the waiting period runs out?

Yes. If your case was dismissed due to lack of probable cause or mistake then you can file before the waiting period expires. This means that the case was dismissed with prejudice and the District Attorney cannot refile the charges against you.

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What is the main reason that a Texas expungement case would be denied?

Cases are denied for the following reasons: (1) an inaccuracy in the court file, (2) an inaccuracy in the application, (3) the court does not believe that granting your expungement will be in the interest of society or (4) not paying fines.

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What if my expungement is denied?

A legal doctrine called "res judicata" prevents a party from relitigating claims that have already been decided by a court. (Barr v. Resolution Trust Corp., 837 S.W.2d 627 (Tex. 1992)). In Texas, res judicata applies to petitions for expungement. (Ex Parte Myers, 68 S.W.3d 229 (2002)). Except under limited circumstances, once the judge makes a decision to deny a petition for expungement, that decision is final (unless successfully appealed) and the case cannot be refiled at a later time. For this reason, hiring an attorney experienced in Texas expungement law to properly file the petition is extremely important.

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What is deferred adjudication?

Deferred adjudication is a sentence that the judge gives you. Typically, you are placed on probation as part of the sentence. Upon completing the sentence, the judge dismisses the case and “defers” the guilty plea. Under Texas law this is not considered a conviction.

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What if I was convicted of a lesser crime but the arresting charge was dismissed?

You cannot expunge the case because the case cannot lead to a conviction, even if the conviction was a lesser charge. The only exception to this is if the lesser crime was filed as a completely separate case.

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What if I have multiple cases that I wish to expunge?

We can file for multiple cases; however, they must be filed separately.

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What happens after the order of expungement is granted?

You will receive a court order of expungement. The order will update the court and state records so your record is sealed and destroyed.

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How do the agencies know the expungement was granted?

Once the judge signs the granted order for the case to be expunged, the court sends the order to all agencies with records of the arrest and court case.

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How long do records take to be updated after the expungement?

The court updates their records within 48 hours. Texas Department of Public Safety and agencies typically update their records between 30 to 60 days upon receiving the order.

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Will an expungement relieve me of the requirement to register?

No. Under Texas exungement law you are required to register then your offense is not eligible for an expungement.

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Will an expungement clean up my driving record?

No. Driver's license records are not affected by the Texas criminal record expungement . However, driving records fall off your record after a certain period of time unlike your criminal records, which remain on your record for life unless you have them cleared.

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Will my record prohibit me from visiting Canada?

If you have been convicted of minor offenses (including assault, dangerous driving, DUI, theft, shoplifting, unauthorized possession of firearms, possession of illegal substances, etc.) or indictable criminal offenses (including assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, etc.) you may be prohibited from entrance into Canada and further action will be required to find out whether you will be allowed entrance. The Canadian government has entered into an information sharing agreement with the United States, so the Canadian government will have whatever information the United States has on file. Therefore, the first thing you should do is clear your criminal record to the fullest extent possible before submitting to a background check. The benefit of setting aside will show the Canadian government that the matter was resolved and no longer considered a conviction and improve the odds of not being denied entry to Canada or being stuck at the border for lengthy interrogation.

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Can I get a Sentri pass after I get an expungement in Texas?

The Border Patrol has discretion in granting or denying Sentri passes. So, the only thing we can say for sure is that it would help; investing in record clearing before applying for a pass would be advantageous. A modest investment in getting a set aside could be the difference between having your request accepted or denied. The set aside will show that you have resolved all matters with the court.

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Can I vote after the expungement?

Voting rights are restored to individuals convicted of a felony in Texas once a person is fully discharged from their sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completes a period of probation ordered by any court. Therefore, if you are eligible for expungement, then you already have your voting rights.

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Will expungement help with immigration?

Criminal violations may have severe consequences for immigrants, even if the crime is expunged/vacated/sealed. Even minor offenses such as petty theft can make someone deportable or inadmissible, while more serious offenses such as burglary may not have the same consequences. Since each case is unique, getting a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts is imperative. To find out if your criminal conviction will impact your immigration case, contacting a qualified immigration attorney is vital. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.

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Can I clear my federal conviction?

You can only expunge certain cases. Typically, you have to show that the conviction was wrongful or unconstitutional. Additionally, a person can apply for a pardon through the President. We do not handle federal cases.

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Will an expungement restore my right to own or use a firearm?

Since dismissed cases and cases where deferred adjudication is completed are not considered convictions, you are able to own or possess a firearm already. However, there is also a lifetime prohibition from the United States government (Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act), which prohibits firearm ownership of those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence as defined by federal law. The federal definition is narrower than Texas’s definition, so your domestic violence conviction in Texas might not trigger the federal law. Expungement in Texas does not lift the federal prohibition.

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Who may serve on a jury in Texas?

In Texas, you may serve on a jury if you: 1) are a resident of the United States and a resident of the county by which you are summoned, 2) are at least eighteen years of age, 3) are able to read and write, 4) are of sound mind.

You may not serve on a jury if you: 1) have been convicted of a felony for any type of theft, unless your rights have been restored to you, 2) are currently on probation or deferred adjudication for any type of theft on a felony level, 3) are currently under indictment for a felony or are currently charged with any type of theft.


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The first step towards a better life begins with finding out if you are eligible for Texas Criminal Record Expungement.

FREE Eligibility Test


Call us at 512-501-4973 or Toll Free (877) 573-7273
Please take the free online eligibility test before calling.

Law Firm of Higbee & Associates
13785 Research Blvd. Suite 125, Austin, TX 78750 *

1314 Texas Ave. Suite 701, Houston, TX 77002 *

6060 North Central Expressway Suite 315, Dallas, TX 75206 *
*By Appointment Only