As we slog through the dog days of summer here in Texas, it’s hard to imagine that the Fall is on it’s way. But schools are starting back, football is returning to Sundays, and cooler weather will soon follow. Every other year there’s one more thing that September 1st marks in the Lone Star State: the enactment of new laws.
And this September there’s one law from two years ago that’s just about to start helping clear up criminal records for thousands of Texans. Texas Government Code Section 411.0735 now allows nondisclosure for people who were convicted and served jail time for misdemeanors. Let me explain.
For years I’ve described convictions to my clients like this: convictions are marks on your criminal record written in permanent ink; they never go away. Well now it turns out that it’s more like disappearing ink. If you recently served time on a misdemeanor in Texas, you may be eligible to fix your record.
What does the new law say?
There’s a process called “nondisclosure” that allows people to seal their criminal record so that only certain people can see it. I explain it more thoroughly here.
Up to this point, Texans have only been able to use nondisclosure if they received a special kind of probation called “deferred adjudication” (and if they met certain other qualifications). But now, in many cases, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you may also be able to have your record nondisclosed.
This new law took effect on September 1, 2015, and the first class of cases eligible to take advantage will begin to be eligible to file starting September 1, 2017. Here’s how it works.
First, if the crime you were charged and convicted of happened on or after September 1, 2015, the new law applies to you. Second, if you served time in jail, the law requires that you wait two-years after you’re your released from jail before filing.
That means that if you were released from jail on or after September 1, 2015, you may be soon be among the first Texans to take advantage of this new law.
Do I qualify?
First, as a disclaimer, I should say that you’ll need to consult a qualified criminal attorney to determine whether your specific record qualifies for this new law. Our office is happy to set up a consultation to meet with you about this. But generally, if you were arrested for a misdemeanor, served jail time, and were released on or after September 1, 2015, you should look into it.
Here are some other eligibility requirements:
• Before the crime we’re trying to seal, you were never convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any other crime other than a traffic ticket ; and
• Since the crime we’re trying to seal, you haven’t been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any other crime other than a traffic ticket;
There are also several misdemeanor crimes that are specifically excluded: generally they are sex offenses , family violence offenses , and intoxicated driving/boating/flying offenses .
How do I freshen up my record?
To get started right away, contact a qualified criminal attorney to find out whether you qualify for this new provisiont that may allow you to clean up your criminal record. A petition will need to be filed and filing fees will apply and will vary depending on the jurisdiction.
If you think you may qualify for a fresh start, please all our office at (713) 529-3900. We’re happy to help.