The Dallas Law Office of Stephen P. Karns

Arrest Records Sealed


An expunction is an order from a court directing law enforcement agencies to destroy all records related to an arrest and prosecution of an offense committed by an individual. The physical records are destroyed or sometimes turned over to the party petitioning the court for the order. If you receive an order for expunction, you are able to truthfully deny the existence of the offense and that you were ever arrested. However, expunctions are granted in limited circumstances.

Generally, you may be able to expunge your records in the following circumstances:

  • The District Attorney’s office dismissed your case, although you may have to wait until the statute of limitations period has expired;
  • The Grand Jury "no billed" your case;
  • A jury or court returned a "not guilty" verdict in your case after a trial; or
  • You received deferred adjudication for a Class C misdemeanor and the case was originally filed either as a Class C misdemeanor or as a Class A or B misdemeanor and was reduced to a Class C misdemeanor. If your case was originally filed as a felony, but was reduced to a Class C and you received deferred adjudication, it is eligible to be expunged after the statute of limitations expires.

Some exceptions do apply, so please contact my office immediately to see if your are eligible.

Orders of Nondisclosure

As you may know, criminal records are public records and they can be accessed by a number of different entities. This often occurs when you undergo a criminal background check for a new job, apartment, or even a loan. What you may not know is that, even if you successfully completed deferred adjudication for an offense in the past and were not convicted, the record of your arrest and probation remain public and accessible to background check companies, landlords, and employers. To prevent these and other records from appearing on background checks, you must petition the court to get them "sealed."

Not all offenses are eligible; but for many misdemeanors and even felonies, once "sealed" by an Order of Nondisclosure, you may truthfully deny the occurrence of the arrest and prosecution (unless such information is being used against you in a subsequent prosecution). Your records are not destroyed, as is done in an expunction, but law enforcement agencies are prohibited from disclosing them to third parties, such as background check companies. Aside from an attorney’s fee, there is a filing fee. Remember, not all offenses are eligible to be sealed, some exceptions do apply, so please contact my office to see if you are eligible.

To be eligible, you must have:

  1. Received deferred adjudication probation;
  2. Completed the probation and received a discharge and dismissal from the court; AND
  3. Not committed a new offense during the period of probation and any applicable waiting period (except for fine-only traffic offenses).

Below is a partial list of offenses and their waiting periods:

Misdemeanors Felonies
No Waiting Period Two Year Waiting Period Five Year Waiting Period
Possession of Marijuana
Criminal Mischief
Criminal Trespass
Bad Checks
Public Lewdness
Indecent Exposure
Disorderly Conduct
Unlawful Carrying Weapon
Possession of a
Controlled Substance
Burglary of a Habitation