Having a criminal record or record of arrest can be devastating to your future. It can affect your opportunities for employment, college grants and scholarships, professional licenses, housing and your general reputation. One of the most important things you can do is to clear or seal your criminal and arrest records. Texas laws regarding sealing, expunging or nondisclosing criminal records and arrest records are relatively new. The purpose is to provide you with a fresh start, untarnished by a mistake you may have made in the past.
Juvenile records are not available to the general public. However, they may be viewed by law enforcement officials, including any prosecutors on any future charges. If you have a juvenile criminal record, but haven’t been charged with any additional crimes, in most cases, it is possible to have your records sealed, even from law enforcement.
If you have criminal charges as an adult, it may be possible to have the records expunged or nondisclosed. If the records are expunged, they are permanently removed from all sources. A nondisclosure is similar but not as far reaching. With a nondisclosure, the general public is not allowed to view the records or even to know that they ever existed. The records are maintained, but by law they cannot be disclosed. In fact, if your criminal records are ordered nondisclosed, you may legally deny that the charges occurred or that you were ever arrested.
The benefit of these procedures whether the records are sealed, nondisclosed or expunged is that your criminal history is kept hidden from potential employers, landlords, financial institutions and educational institutions.