The phrase “second chances” is common in criminal defense. In Texas, it probably refers to a somewhat recent change in state law. This change allowed some people with single-offense criminal records to request nondisclosure orders.
This article focuses on the law resulting from House Bill 3016, which the governor signed near the end of 2017. Thanks to this legislation, those with minor convictions could potentially take better advantage of opportunities for housing, work and social interaction.
What does a second chance record sealing do?
A record-sealing order could effectively close the criminal record to the public. The person who benefits from the order would typically not be under an obligation to disclose the offense.
However, the record does not disappear. Law enforcement professionals could have access. The court would also use the records when determining penalties for subsequent offenses.
Who could be eligible for record sealing?
Texas state law lists many conditions for this second chance. For example, it does not apply to serious violent or sexual crimes.
The law, generally speaking, could give people with one-time, minor convictions a chance to break free of the indirect consequences that often come along with having a public criminal record. Examples of these impacts might include:
- Difficulty finding a job due to the requirement to declare a conviction
- Rejected lease applications due to a criminal record
- Lack of confidence when pursuing new ventures
- Social discrimination
Nondisclosure orders for criminal records could help people make an important step toward putting their lives back together. There could also be other options for post-conviction relief, depending on the details of the case.