When you make a mistake that leads to your arrest, the state maintains public records of your brush with the law. Criminal charges can also result in a permanent criminal record for the accused.

A criminal record will absolutely hold you back from the best opportunities in life. Many educational institutions, employers and landlords perform background checks. Public records can show not just your convictions but also any arrests that occurred. Those performing background checks tend to assume someone is guilty of the charges they faced if they pleaded guilty to a lesser offense, which may mean people view you as a felon despite a misdemeanor being the only charge on your record.

If you don’t have a reasonable explanation for your brush with the law, you could lose out on a new job or the perfect rental unit in your dream neighborhood because of an issue from years ago. Texas does not have a straightforward expungement system to remove criminal convictions from people’s records, but the state will grant expunctions in specific situations. What may qualify for expunction?

You can remove arrests and unproven charges

Texas has relatively strict limitations on expunction. The only records that you can potentially remove or seal are records of an arrest that didn’t result in charges or of criminal charges that did not result in a conviction. Any offense that you plead no contest or guilty to will not be eligible for expunction under the current Texas rules.

There are other options for those coping with a record. If you do not meet the strict requirements for expunction, you may still be able to seal your records in certain circumstances. Nondisclosure orders can help those who meet certain criteria. Nondisclosure orders are common after someone completes deferred adjudication or specialty court proceedings. Victims of trafficking may qualify for nondisclosure, as can those who complete probation for certain misdemeanor or drunk driving offenses.

Both expunction and nondisclosure orders can help you find better employment or continue your education. Learning more about how to reduce the blemishes on your criminal record will help you move on from a mistake that you made years ago.