I’ve been lawyering for 16 years now, and for that entire time, I’ve been telling clients that convictions can be not expunged or sealed in Texas. That is not the case anymore, Texas now allows for some misdemeanor straight probation cases to be sealed (non-disclosed). These cases still can not be expunged (which means the records are destroyed), but they can be sealed (which means hidden from the public, but not from the government).
What is straight probation?
Good question. That is what we called probation that is not deferred. That means you are convicted of the offense when you plead guilty and placed on probation. I’m not sure how it came to be called “straight”, but that decision was made well before I became a lawyer. Straight probation means you plead guilty, and the judge finds you guilty but probates (put offs the sentence for) the jail time. That is, you don’t have to serve the jail part of your sentence if you finish probation. Compare that to deferred probation, where the judge puts off the sentence and the conviction.
What straight probations case are eligible for a non-disclosure?
Most misdemeanors are eligible, but NOT intoxication offenses (DWIs etc) or engaging in organized criminal activity offenses (Penal Code Chapter 71).
Which defendants are eligible for straight probation non-disclosures?
If your case is not an intoxication offense or organized criminal activity then you are eligible ONLY IF you have never been convicted or placed on deferred for any offense other than a fine-only offense (traffic ticket/class-C).
Is there a waiting period to file for a non-disclosure?
Yes, two years for some cases (Penal Code Chapter 20, 21, 22, 25, 42, 43, and 46 offenses) and immediately for all others.
If I qualify and apply is it automatically granted?
Unfortunately no. The petitioner must show the non-disclosure is in the best interest of the public. Which gives your judge some leeway to deny it.