Disclosing a Prior Arrest that has been Expunged in Texas
Do I have to disclose an arrest if the case has been expunged in Texas?
In Texas, you DO NOT have to disclose an expunged case. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 55.03, specifically allows for anyone to deny the occurrence of an arrest after it has been expunged. What would be the purpose of an expunction if you still had to disclose the arrest on things like job applications and housing applications? If you are seeking expungement, make sure the expungement attorney you hire knows to include specific language in the order regarding your right to deny the arrest. This will help clear any confusion should you have problems in the future. While the law clearly allows someone to deny an arrest if it was expunged, the answer to whether you should disclose the arrest is not quite as straightforward.
Should I disclose a prior arrest if the case was expunged?
While you don’t legally have to disclose a prior arrest that has been expunged, there may be situations where honesty is the best policy. The decision of whether someone should disclose a prior arrest should be made on a case by case basis, as every situation is different. Obviously, if the potential employer already knows about your criminal history, you should disclose a prior arrest. What if you deny the arrest and your employer later finds out about it? As I said earlier, make sure you hire an experienced expungement lawyer who knows to include the specific statutory language in the final expunction order allowing you to deny the arrest. This way, you can point to the language in your final expunction order should your employer confront you about it. If you decide to disclose the previous arrest, and the case was dismissed, make sure to note that the case was dismissed, that you were wrongly arrested and you were never found guilty.
Will an employer be able to see an expunged case on my background check?
In most cases, once a case has been expunged, any and all trace of the records will be destroyed no employer or anyone else will be able to see an expunged case. Unfortunately, there are some situations where the records may still be available. There are a large number of background check companies, most of whom follow the law when it comes to destroying arrest records subject to an expunction order in Texas. There are some background check companies, however, who do not exercise due diligence in updating their databases, and who may continue to hold arrest records, even after expunction. In my experience, most employers will use the more reputable background check companies who keep updated databases. Make sure you obtain a copy of the final expunction order from your expunction attorney so that you can show this order to anyone who continues to hold expunged records. You can send them a copy of this order, instructing them to obey the order. Texas expunction law states that anyone who fails to abide by an expunction order is subject to arrest for a class B misdemeanor.
Will my arrest records automatically be expunged after a period of time?
A common, yet mistaken, assumption is that arrest records in Harris County, Texas will automatically be erased or expunged after a period of time. This is false. There is no law in Texas that requires arrest records to be automatically expunged after a certain period of time. It doesn’t matter how long ago the arrest occurred. Unless the case has been expunged, the records will always be available to the public on a background check. The easiest way to find criminal records in Harris County is by going to the Harris County District Clerk's website and conducting an online search. In the modern age of digital record keeping and mass electronic communication, it would be a mistake to assume that your criminal records have automatically been deleted because it happened a long time ago. The best way to ensure that a previous arrest doesn't come back to haunt you is to hire an experienced Houston expungement attorney to help you with the process.