How Do Criminal Records Work and How Are They Cleared?

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522

An arrest is the “big bang” of the criminal record universe; it is the first piece of information on the criminal record which triggers a duty for local justice agencies to report several other pieces of information relating to your case. Under Chapter 60 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, this information includes, but is not limited to the following:

Name, date of birth, physical description
Arresting agency
Arrest charge
Arrest date
Whether the case was accepted for prosecution
Whether the case was rejected for prosecution
Reasons the case was rejected for prosecution (including completion of pretrial diversion)
The final pleading to each charged offense
The type of disposition (conviction, acquittal, probation, deferred adjudication, etc.)
The sentence for each offense

Chapter 60 also explains that the duty to report data to DPS is only triggered upon an arrest for an offense greater than a Class C Misdemeanor. According to the DPS website, it is estimated that only about 60% of dispositions in local courts are present in the DPS database. Local justice agencies are not required to report data for Class C Misdemeanors, but should they choose to report this information DPS will include it with your criminal history. By statute, whatever ends up in the DPS database can and will be shared with the FBI (which maintains its own database).

In Texas there are two ways to “fix” your criminal record. Depending upon how the case was resolved you may be eligible for either an expunction or nondisclosure. An expunction will completely destroy your record and give you the right to deny that a case ever existed (in most scenarios). When properly notified of an expunction, the FBI will also erase information from their database, as well. A nondisclosure is less potent. A nondisclosure will merely seal the record and prevent DPS from disclosing case data to the general public. The following entities will still be able to access nondisclosed criminal history:

(1) the State Board for Educator Certification;

(2) a school district, charter school, private school, regional education service center, commercial transportation company, or education shared service arrangement;

(3) the Texas Medical Board;

(4) the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired;

(5) the Board of Law Examiners;

(6) the State Bar of Texas;

(7) a district court regarding a petition for name change under Subchapter B, Chapter 45, Family Code;

(8) the Texas School for the Deaf;

(9) the Department of Family and Protective Services;

(10) the Texas Youth Commission;

(11) the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services;

(12) the Department of State Health Services, a local mental health service, a local mental retardation authority, or a community center providing services to persons with mental illness or retardation;

(13) the Texas Private Security Board;

(14) a municipal or volunteer fire department;

(15) the Texas Board of Nursing;

(16) a safe house providing shelter to children in harmful situations;

(17) a public or nonprofit hospital or hospital district;

(18) the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission;

(19) the securities commissioner, the banking commissioner, the savings and mortgage lending commissioner, the consumer credit commissioner, or the credit union commissioner;

(20) the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy;

(21) the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation;

(22) the Health and Human Services Commission;

(23) the Department of Aging and Disability Services;

(24) the Texas Education Agency;

(25) the Guardianship Certification Board;

(26) a county clerk’s office in relation to a proceeding for the appointment of a guardian under Chapter XIII, Texas Probate Code;

(27) the Department of Information Resources but only regarding an employee, applicant for employment, contractor, subcontractor, intern, or volunteer who provides network security services under Chapter 2059 to: (A) the Department of Information Resources; or (B) a contractor or subcontractor of the Department of Information Resources;

(28) the Court Reporters Certification Board;

(29) the Texas Department of Insurance; and

(30) the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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