What Is a Criminal Record?
A criminal record is made up of documents or a compilation or summary of documents maintained by state or federal governments that preserves, in chronological order, your history of violations, arrests, and convictions under criminal law.
On the federal level, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) maintains a nationwide database of criminal records. Information stored by the NCIC involves all federal criminal matters as well as information that is voluntarily supplied by states.
Criminal records are often accessed by credit reporting agencies at the time of application for credit cards or loans, by potential employers, and for screenings of tenants by landlords. Law enforcement agencies and courts also have ready access to these records.
How Long Does a Criminal Record Last?
All criminal information stays on criminal records indefinitely and is available to anyone with access to the records. In some states, “expungement” of criminal records may be possible with the records either being sealed from public view or destroyed by erasing the information from the state database and destroying all hard copies of the records. There is no federal equivalent of record expungement, and the only recourse for an individual to obtain relief from these records is by obtaining a presidential pardon.
In Texas, an individual who has successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision can petition the court that placed the individual on probation for an order of nondisclosure of the related criminal records under Texas Government Code §411.071.
An order of nondisclosure prohibits criminal justice agencies from disclosing to the public criminal history record information related to an offense. Nondisclosure is different from an expungement in the sense that the record does not “go away,” it is merely held back from access by the public.
How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record?
Arrests are part of a criminal record and stay on the record until the record is expunged. As an alternative option, a defendant under certain circumstances can petition for an order of nondisclosure, which does not remove an arrest from the record completely, allowing law enforcement agencies to still access it, but does prevent public disclosure of the record, such as to a prospective employer. A qualified lawyer can assist you with a petition for nondisclosure.
How Long Does a Conviction Stay on Your Criminal Record?
Convictions are part of a criminal record and stay on the record until the record is expunged. As an alternative, under certain circumstances, you, the defendant, can petition for an order of nondisclosure. Again, this nondisclosure does not remove an arrest from the record completely (law enforcement agencies can still access it), but it does prevent public disclosure of the record, such as to a prospective employer or landlord. A lawyer can assist you with a petition for nondisclosure.
How Long Does a Minor Criminal Record Last?
A juvenile criminal record is Texas is not confidential. And the record is not automatically sealed once you turn 18. If a record is not sealed, it can be read by law enforcement agencies, probation officers, juvenile justice officers, prospective employers, educational institutions, and a few other parties.
In the case of juvenile criminal records, Texas law lets you seal some convictions after a waiting period under Family Code §58.253. A new process of “automatic sealing” eliminates the requirements to file an application or petition to seal records and mandates the juvenile court to order sealing of records if the juvenile meets statutory criteria. Another law lets you expunge some criminal records (i.e., minor alcohol violations) handled in municipal or justice courts.
How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?
A misdemeanor, while defined as a minor wrongdoing or crime, is still considered a crime. As such, it is still a part of your criminal record just like a felony conviction would be, and still stays on your record, indefinitely, unless you seek an expungement.
This means a misdemeanor stays on your record for life unless you successfully petition for expungement. There is no preset “expiration date” for misdemeanor crimes. Even though misdemeanor offenses are less serious than felonies, they are still serious breaches in the eyes of the law.
Legally speaking, a misdemeanor is on your record for life. However, in some cases, background checks will only go back a certain number of years. For instance, in Texas, there is a “seven-year rule” in place discussed more below.
If you were arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, your criminal record may qualify for expungement under the following conditions:
- you were acquitted of the crime for which you were charged
- you were convicted but subsequently found to be innocent
- you were convicted but subsequently pardoned by the Governor or President
- you were formally charged by indictment or information and the case against you was later dismissed, and the statute of limitations has expired, or
- you were arrested but not formally charged and you satisfy a proscribed waiting period
Texas requires that you wait a specific period of time before filing for expunction if you were arrested, but not charged with a crime. This is to allow the prosecution time to muster a case against you if they choose/can do so. These waiting periods are 180 days from the date of arrest for a Class C Misdemeanor, one year from the date of arrest for a Class A or Class B Misdemeanor, and three years from the date of arrest for a felony.
Additionally, record sealing in Texas is available to those who have successfully completed all terms and conditions of deferred adjudication probation. For a misdemeanor in Texas, you can seal your record immediately after completing your deferred adjudication. For a felony, you must wait 5 years to seal your record.
A handful of charges are never eligible for a non-disclosure, as follows:
- Aggravated and Regular Sexual Assault
- Indecency with a Child
- Prohibited Sexual Conduct
- Aggravated Kidnapping
- Burglary of Habitation with intent to commit the above-listed offenses
- Compelling Prostitution
- Sexual Performance of a Child
- Child Pornography charges
- Unlawful Restraint, Kidnapping, or Aggravated Kidnapping of a person younger than 17 years old
- Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above-listed offenses
- Capital Murder or Murder
- Injury to a Child, Elderly or Disabled person
- Abandoning or Endangering a Child
- Violation of a Protective Order
- Family Violence
How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record?
A DWI is sometimes mistaken for a driving violation since it involves the use of a car. In fact, a DWI is a criminal violation, and stays on your record for the remainder of your life, subject to expungement and nondisclosure as explained in this article.
How Long Does a Bad Check stay on Your Record?
If you were convicted for passing a bad check in Texas, the crime stays on your record for the remainder of your life, subject to expungement and nondisclosure as explained in this article.
How Far Back to Background Checks Go?
The law for how far back a background check can look is different in each state. In Texas, for example, the basic rule which answers the question “how far does a background check go” is that an employer working with a credit reporting agency can only look back seven years on a criminal background check.
An exception is when the job in question is for more than $75,000 per year. In that case, the employer can look back as far as your eighteenth birthday. For a job with an insurance agency, the employer may perform a background check also to your eighteenth birthday. For jobs that include residential delivery or in-home services, like being a landscaper, electrician, or UPS driver, the employer is required to conduct a background check that includes 20 years back for felonies and 10 for misdemeanors.
How Do Misdemeanors Come Up on Criminal Background Checks?
A misdemeanor while defined as a minor wrongdoing or crime, is still considered a crime. As such, it is still a part of your criminal record just like a felony conviction would be, and still stays on your record, indefinitely, unless you seek an expungement. The misdemeanor is found as part of the criminal background check. It is noted as a misdemeanor rather than a felony on the check.
How Long Does a Felony Stay on a Background Check?
Felonies and misdemeanors both are part of a criminal record and stay on the record until the record is expunged. They stay on a criminal record indefinitely unless expunged, and they can be found through a background check subject to the statutory limitations on how far back a checker can look.
Your criminal record could be impeding your work life and living situation. Take back control of your life by working with an experienced federal appeals attorney in Houston who may be able to help your situation. Contact The Law Offices of Seth Kretzer today to schedule a consultation.