A criminal history can harm your chances of getting a job, obtaining a professional license, or receiving a mortgage or loan.  There are two common procedures in Texas for clearing or sealing one’s criminal history information – a petition for expunction or a petition for nondisclosure.  Eligibility for either an expunction or nondisclosure depends on the type of case, the outcome, and when it happened.  Consulting a criminal defense lawyer with a thorough understanding of the law governing eligibility and procedures for expunctions and nondisclosures for clearing criminal history in Houston and surrounding areas is essential to properly clearing or sealing your record.

How Do I Clear My Criminal Record?

For all practical purposes, there are two ways to remove criminal history information – a petition for expunction or a petition for nondisclosure.  The appropriate remedy for clearing criminal history in Houston, Harris County, and other counties in Texas depends upon the circumstances of the case.

Petitions for Expunction

A person may file a petition for expunction when a case is dismissed or a person is acquitted at trial.  An expunction is filed in a district court and is a civil proceeding.  Because it is a civil lawsuit, expunctions often take several month to complete.  The District Attorney’s Office is entitled to oppose an expunction, and the court ultimately decides whether to grant it.  Under the law, a person must wait until the statute of limitations has run in order to be eligible for an expunction if the case is dismissed.  The statute of limitations for misdemeanors is two years; for most felonies, it is three years (though there are many exceptions).  Many District Attorney’s Offices will not oppose an early expunction as long as there are no unusual circumstances in the case.  A person is entitled to an immediate expunction if acquitted at trial.

Petitions for Nondisclosure

A person may file a petition for nondisclosure upon the completion of a deferred adjudication and subsequent dismissal of the case.  A petition for nondisclosure allows a person to have their criminal history information sealed from public view (unlike an expunction, which orders the destruction of all records of the offense).  As a practical matters, a petition for nondisclosure will stop most non-governmental entities from being able to obtain information about a criminal charge.  Petitions for nondisclosure are filed in the court in which the case was originally heard.  Petitions for expunction can generally be heard fairly quickly after they are filed. As with an expunction, The District Attorney’s Office is entitled to oppose an expunction, and the court ultimately decides whether to grant it.

There is no waiting period for most misdemeanors to file a petition for nondisclosure after the period of deferred adjudication is complete.  For most felonies, the waiting period is five years from the date that the period of deferred adjudication was completed.  A person who has been subject to non-traffic criminal charges during the waiting period will generally be ineligible to file a petition for nondisclosure.

Clearing Criminal History in Houston

David A. Nachtigall has successfully helped individuals clear and seal their criminal histories through petitions for expunction and petitions for nondisclosure.  Contact our firm to determine eligibility and procedures for clearing and sealing your criminal record and for clearing criminal history in Houston.


“David went above and beyond to help me in defense of a DWI charge. With his background as a prosecutor, he already knew the ins and outs of navigating through the process and was able to get me a better deal than I otherwise would have received. His hard work, open communication, dedication and intelligence are all very valuable for anyone in an unfortunate situation like I was. I couldn’t be more pleased with his representation and would definitely recommend him to anyone considering hiring an attorney.”
charged with Misdemeanor
“David was the first and only person I considered calling for legal advice for a friend in an unusual and complicated situation. His advice was spot-on accurate and the best solution. David is not only one of the smartest lawyers I know but he also has a unique grasp of the nuances involved in working with different personalities and negotiating on behalf of them. He can quickly synthesize various outcomes and options into a well-defined solution. He does it all with integrity, clarity and confidence that I’d want representing myself or a loved one.”
B.S., client under Felony Investigation
“Mr. Nachtigall is an exemplary attorney. Overall, he was always responsive to the various amount of questions I had, also he kept me informed on how things were looking during my case. I have spoken to plenty of attorneys, but Mr. Nachtigall seemed to stand out for his sincerity, his willing to make your case his responsibility and maintaining a positive attitude that seem to be hard to find nowadays.”
A.R., client charged with Felony
“Within my industry I consult with many lawyers and whilst on a business trip to Houston I required legal counsel and David was recommended to me. Initially David’s age surprised me; as it did not reflect his wealth of experience, local contacts and immediate control that he took of my case and me. David promptly providing sound, logical and concise legal counsel which demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the local system and the law. David has great integrity and a supreme confidence born from experience. A quiet man but with a firm, resolute character that enabled a professional court demeanour that when coupled with his succinct legal strategy provided for a most successful conclusion in court – Thank you David. I vouch for and strongly recommend David services, he is great lawyer.”
J.G., client charged with Misdemeanor
“David Nachtigall was my attorney for a DWI that I received in December of 2013. He really did a great job on my case. He was always very polite, prompt, and diligent when dealing with any questions that I had and he always took the correct steps to accomplish our desired outcome. Even though my case was stacked against me, he still was able to negotiate a DWI Pre-trial Intervention plea (which was the best and most realistic outcome considering the circumstances). Just to make things clear, the deal I received is not one that is easily ascertained. In fact, it took two tries to receive it. However, thanks to Mr. Nachtigall’s hard work and persistence, the deal went through. He never kept me in the dark about anything in reference to my case, he was not difficult to contact, and he always returned my phone calls as soon as possible or as soon as he had an answer to any question I asked (all of which are increasingly rare qualities in a busy lawyer). I can’t thank him enough for his help, and I would recommend David Nachtigall to anyone in need of a great, hard-working lawyer who knows how to get things done efficiently and effectively.”
J.C., client charged with Misdemeanor
“I was recently charged with assault on a peace officer which is a felon charge. I have never been in trouble with the law in my life. I was raised in a strict catholic house I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I hired David after dealing with a bad lawyer. He picked up the slack with no problem. David did everything in his power to get the charges dropped. I left with a misdemeanor charge and 6 months probation. David answered ALL of my phone calls & emails. He showed up to every court setting and didn’t send anyone for him. I would highly recommend David to anyone.”
J.U., client charged with Felony
“David Nachtigall is a true professional. He handled my case (a second degree felony) with such expertise that the charges were dropped. His experience as a former prosecutor proved to be a tremendous asset. He kept me well informed and provided much needed personal support. I highly recommend David for any legal need you may have.”
P.S., client charged with Felony
“I highly recommend criminal defense attorney David Nachtigall. While he represented my son, David consistently displayed a calm and professional demeanor, careful attention to detail, and thoroughly researched every aspect of a very complex and challenging criminal case. His ability to deduct the truth was commendable despite the complainants who kept changing their story. I am thankful we had David on our side. His previous experience working in the DA’s office was an advantage in understanding how the courts worked. I especially appreciated his compassion to stay in touch with us and that he was easily reachable when we had questions. If you need an attorney that will truly listen and fight for you, I recommend David Nachtigall.”
P.T., parent of child charged with Felony
“David is a consummate professional. Through a normal background check I found out I had a very old warrant, I attempted to call the county and they would’t even talk to me. It could have cost me my job. I contacted David (one of the challenges is I live 500 miles away); and he secured a dismissal the next day, saving my career. He cut right through the red tape. I’d highly recommend David to anyone!”
R.B., charged with Misdemeanor
David is one of the most polished, even tempered attorneys I’ve ever met. I was the defendant on a spurious criminal case and he carefully dissected each unsubstantiated allegation and was able to refute the basis for the charge itself (which was the intent to commit a crime). I have to say that he really made the prosecuting attorney look foolish by carefully researching and laying out the facts combined with his patient, even tempered demeanor. I also appreciated the fact that he knew the behind the scenes political motivations for why the prosecution in the D.A.’s office acted so illogically-he knows these people and their work environment, so he was able to use this to craft a winning strategy to get my case dropped.
J.B., charged with Felony
“I was recently traveling on business in Houston and was caught with a tiny amount marijuana. All it takes in Texas is half a joint and you are in a world of hurt. Dumb mistake on my part. Let me be the first to advise everyone in a similar situation, you will need strong representation. The Houston court system is beyond challenging and unbelievably confusing. What I thought was no big deal could’ve meant losing my license, probation, and possibly more jail time. Typically people hate attorneys, David saved me in a huge way. He treated me like a friend and always kept me posted on the status of my case. He was willing to work with me due to my work schedule and he came to his office, before it even opened, to meet me. Because of his experience and persistence my case was dropped. I am so thankful I found him and would highly recommend his service. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.”
J.W., client charged with Misdemeanor