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What is the Difference Between Sealing and Expunging A Juvenile Record in Texas?

Posted on May 22, 2024 in

In Texas, the difference between sealing and expunging a juvenile record involves the record’s access level of access. Sealing a record restricts who can see it. The record still exists but is not part of the public record and cannot be accessed by most entities.

Expunging means the record is destroyed and removed from all systems. There is no trace of the offense or court action. Understanding these differences is crucial. Let an experienced Houston expungement attorney with Marc Brown Law Firm guide you as you take the first step toward clearing your record.

What is Sealing a Juvenile Record in Texas

Sealing your juvenile record in Texas hides it from public view. The record will not appear on some background checks done by employers or landlords. It can improve a juvenile’s chances of moving forward without the burden of their past mistakes. But, under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 55.051, law enforcement, government agencies, and schools can still access the sealed record.

Eligibility For Sealing Juvenile Records In Texas

Texas Juvenile Justice Code Section 58.256 outlines eligibility for sealing juvenile records. To have your child’s juvenile records sealed, they must meet specific criteria:

  • Be at least 17 years old (or younger than 17 and have at least one year since discharge from juvenile probation, accompanied by a parent/guardian at the hearing)
  • Have no pending delinquent conduct matters
  • Not have been certified to stand trial as an adult
  • Have no adult felony convictions or pending misdemeanor/felony charges punishable by jail
  • Still waiting to receive a determinate sentence adjudication
  • Not be required to register as a sex offender
  • If committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, you have been discharged

However, serious offenses, such as those outlined in Texas Penal Code Chapter 5, including violent crimes, or Chapter 21, the sex offenses statute, may never be sealed.

Expunging a Juvenile Record in Texas

Expungement goes a step further than sealing. When a record is expunged under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 55.052, the court destroys it. This means that the record no longer exists and cannot be accessed by anyone, including law enforcement, government agencies, or schools.

Eligibility For Expunging Juvenile Records In Texas

Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.01, you might qualify for an expunction if arrested for a felony or misdemeanor, but the outcome was not a conviction. There are two categories of eligibility for expunction in Texas. You may be  entitled to an expunction if:

  • You were acquitted of the crime
  • You were convicted but later found innocent or pardoned
  • Your case was dismissed after charges were filed, and the statute of limitations has expired
  • You were arrested but never charged, and the required waiting period has passed

You may be eligible for an expunction under certain circumstances if:

  • You were convicted at the trial court but acquitted on appeal.
  • The prosecuting attorney recommends an expunction.

Why Seal or Expunge a Juvenile Record in Texas?

There are many reasons why a juvenile might want to seal or expunge their record. A sealed or expunged record can make it much easier to get a job and find housing. Sealing or expunging a record can help a juvenile pursue their academic goals. Moreover, you can have peace of mind knowing that past mistakes will not continue to hold you back.