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Sealing and restricted access to juvenile records in Texas

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2021 | Criminal Law |

The sealing of criminal records is a serious issue with the Texas court system. There are several records that are actually restricted from sealing or expungement, such as convictions for driving under the influence. However, the standard that is applied to juveniles is different from adults with respect to many crimes of low to moderate nature. And even if the juvenile is convicted of serious criminal activity, they are still often prosecuted as a juvenile as opposed to an adult unless they are very near the 18-year old threshold for adult status. This means that sealing the record could be possible when they reach adulthood.

Restricted record sealing

Even though juveniles are generally allowed to seal even Class A and B misdemeanor records as established by Texas juvenile law, case information regarding certain crimes cannot be sealed. Sex offense registry requirements are a prime example. All Class C misdemeanors records for juveniles are shielded from public view by court policy. However, certain government agencies and law enforcement can still see the record when conducting investigations or evaluating individuals for government services.

The process

While certain criminal records will be sealed automatically at age 17 per Texas juvenile law, there are still conviction records that will need sealing from law enforcement viewing as well as restricted public access. These expunctions require the defendant to file for a record sealing that completely does away with the record. These are usually Class A and B misdemeanor cases. Each conviction must be evaluated on its own merit, and prosecutors are limited in contesting the request approval.

One primary issue with expunging criminal histories for minors is when they have been tried and sentenced as an adult while under the age of 18. At the point of prosecution they are considered an adult, and no further consideration can be given to sealing a case record.