A non-disclosure is a court order that prevents public entities, including police, prosecutors, and court clerks, from disclosing or releasing arrest and case information to the general public. The charge is sealed from public view and it will not show up on most background checks.
People who receive a nondisclosure do not have to report their arrest to most employers. However, certain licensing agencies, law enforcement and government organizations will still have access to the information and records. People interested in becoming a teacher, nurse, lawyer or any job licensed by the state must report it to their respective licensing agency, as these boards will see the charge.
In Texas, any type of arrest or criminal charge – even if it resulted in a favorable outcome – can adversely impact your future. A criminal record may prevent you from getting into the college of your choice, landing your dream job, or even closing a deal on a new house. It is important to understand your options.
A nondisclosure allows you to seal your record from most prying eyes so you can get on with your life. In this article, Benson Varghese, a Fort Worth Nondisclosure Lawyer, explains the nondisclosure process in Texas. Fortunately, significant changes to nondisclosure laws went into effect in September 2015, and again in September 2017 and 2019, which expanded eligibility for people seeking to seal their criminal record through a nondisclosure.
If you believe you may be eligible for a nondisclosure, contact a Fort Worth Nondisclosure Attorney at our office for a free consultation. We will review your case and work to get your criminal record sealed so you can put your past behind you.
An expunction orders the destruction of all records of an offense. A nondisclosure, on the other hand, seals the record prevents the Texas Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies from releasing arrest and case information to anyone other than another law enforcement agency or certain specific agencies. In other words, a nondisclosure ensures that your record is no longer a “public record.”
Prior to September 1, 2015, only individuals who had their cases dismissed after successfully completing deferred adjudication probation were eligible for a nondisclosure. That has since changed – and in a big way. Currently, there are a number of scenarios under which nondisclosures are now possible. Under Texas Government Code, Chapter 411, you may qualify for a nondisclosure (other conditions apply) if:
As you can see, this can be a bit complicated. To find out if you are eligible for a nondisclosure, contact our law firm to speak to an experienced Fort Worth nondisclosure lawyer. We will review your case and determine if you meet the criteria to have your record sealed.
If you have been convicted or placed on probation for ANY of the following, you will not be eligible for a non-disclosure:
Yes, as long as it’s a first-time DWI and certain other criteria are met. In 2017, House Bill 3016, also called the “Second Chance Law” went into effect, allowing for a nondisclosure of a first-time DWI (with probation or jail time) under certain circumstances. Before this law was enacted, a DWI could not be sealed in Texas. To be eligible:
Yes, for certain misdemeanors. There are generally two types of community supervision in Texas – deferred adjudication probation and straight probation. The difference between the two is that there is a finding of guilt – a conviction – if a person receives straight probation.
Before September 2015, a person could not get a nondisclosure after straight probation in Texas even if they successfully completed the terms of their probation. They were only eligible if they had successfully completed deferred adjudication. The law was expanded in 2015 when Government Code Section 411.073 was enacted, which made a defendant eligible to apply for a nondisclosure after successfully completing straight probation for certain misdemeanors.
To qualify for a nondisclosure after straight probation:
Yes, in some circumstances. Similar to straight probation cases, certain misdemeanor convictions that resulted in jail time are also now eligible for nondisclosures under Government Code Section 411.0735. Nondisclosure for jail time basically tracks the same rules and exceptions as nondisclosures for straight probation:
In Texas, certain waiting periods are required before you can ask the court for a nondisclosure.
For felonies, five years must elapse from the date of discharge before a petition for non-disclosure can be filed. For many misdemeanors, you can file immediately after completing deferred adjudication. However, for some misdemeanors, a petitioner must wait two years after the date of discharge before seeking a petition for non-disclosure.
Offenses with two year-waiting periods include:
To accurately determine your eligibility date, it’s important to contact an experienced non-disclosure attorney who knows all of the rules and regulations that comes with petitioning the court for a non-disclosure. A knowledgeable Fort Worth nondisclosure attorney will be able to calculate your waiting period and determine your eligibility.
As mentioned, a nondisclosure in Texas is the legal mechanism used to seal a person’s criminal history so that no one other than law enforcement agencies or a state license agencies have access to the record. To obtain a nondisclosure, a petition for nondisclosure must be prepared and filed with the proper court in county in which you were charged. The state then has an opportunity to request a hearing or the court can set one on its own. At the hearing, the court will determine if granting the nondisclosure is in the best interest of justice, and if so, the judge will grant an order prohibiting the disclosure of the criminal record.
Generally, if you have an offense that has been nondisclosed, you are no longer required to report it. However, there are agencies for which nondisclosure orders do not apply.
There are specific agencies that have access to nondisclosed offenses, including
There are several reasons a nondisclosure can be denied, including inaccurate eligibility, a mistake in the petition, or the judge did not believe it was in the best interest of society. It’s interesting to note that if you are eligible for an expunction and follow all the proper procedures, an expunction must be granted. However, if you are eligible for a nondisclosure and follow all the proper procedures, the judge has the discretion to grant or deny your petition for a nondisclosure. You will increase your chances of obtaining a nondisclosure if you rely on the skills of an experienced Fort Worth nondisclosure lawyer.
Once we review your case for eligibility, we will prepare the motion for nondisclosure. We will confirm the information we find in the court records with you before filing the motion. Once the motion is filed, the State will have an opportunity to respond. This generally takes two to six weeks, but can take longer. If the State does not have an objection, the parties may come up with an agreed order. The matter then gets set on the court’s docket. That may take weeks or months. The court could require a hearing, or if there’s an agreement, might waive the hearing. Once the order is signed by the court, the process is only halfway done. We then send the order of non-disclosure to every entity we believe has your information. They then go through the process of taking down the information from the public eye. It takes time for these orders to get processed though. For example, Texas DPS – the primary supplier of background information in Texas – is about four months behind on complying with orders – and that’s before the pandemic. As a result, it could take a number of months for the order to be complied with. We generally wait about six months before running a background check. At that point if your information is still showing up and we know who is publishing the information, we send a certified letter and a copy of the order to that entity explaining it is a criminal violation to distribute the sealed information. So far, we’ve been able to get everything down using this method, but if the information did not get taken down, we’d make a referral to law enforcement.
As you can tell, nondisclosures can be complicated. Determining if you are eligible and how long you have to wait to file a petition can be tricky and mistakes can derail the process. That’s why it’s best to leave it up to an experienced Fort Worth nondisclosure attorney who knows how to seal a criminal record. Our team at Varghese Summersett will do all the heavy lifting for you. We will determine eligibility, calculate your waiting period, draft and file the petition and aggressively represent you in court. We know you’ve already been through a lot and probably want to avoid the courthouse as much as possible. Let us take it from here while you focus on the future. Call us today for a free consultation.