The stuff that will stay on your record is kind of crazy. If you got into a small altercation with a family member for which you were arrested only to have the charges dropped soon after, this could show up on your record when applying for a job years later. In a case like that where the charges are dropped and the case is dismissed, you may eligible to have your record expunged. If you do what is called pre-trial diversion, you can also get an expunction. Pre-trial diversion is like an off-the-books version of probation. The District Attorney may require you to do certain things and will dismiss the case once you have completed the requirements. But no formal probation is ever ordered or agreed to. If you do agree to probation or deferred adjudication, you can’t get an expunction, but you can get an order of non-disclosure issued.
So what’s the difference between an expunction and an order of non-disclosure? When a judge signs an order for expunction, any agency with record of the arrest and court case must destroy the record. But when a judge signs an order of non-disclosure, any agency with a record of the arrest and court case is prevented from making the record available to anyone. The effect of an order for expunction and an order for non-disclosure is essentially the same. No one should be able to find out about the record.
If you’d like to know a little more about expunctions, please check out this blog post written by my boss, Robert Guest: Texas Expunctions 101. In that post, Mr. Guest goes into a little more detail about the requirements for getting an expunction and discusses several fact scenarios where an expunction might or might not be attainable.