We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, sometimes those mistakes can land you before a Texas judge. But if you were charged with a crime that did not result in a final adjudication of guilt or you were convicted of a non-violent misdemeanor, you may be able to seal the record by requesting an Order for Nondisclosure. A qualified Denton, Texas, criminal defense attorney can assist you with this process and help ensure that your brush with the criminal justice system does not permanently derail your future.
Sometimes called “sealing the record,” an Order of Nondisclosure is a legal document directing a court or state agency not to disclose an individual’s criminal history record to members of the public. An Order of Nondisclosure does not erase the record completely–that may be done in certain cases through a separate process known as expunction–but it does restrict access to the information.
Under Section 411, Subchapter E-1, of the Texas Government Code, a person is eligible for an Order of Nondisclosure if they previously received a “deferred adjudication” for a misdemeanor or felony charge. Deferred adjudication is a type of probation where the defendant enters a guilty (or no-contest) plea but the judge delays entering a conviction. If the defendant complies with all of the probation terms, the judge will dismiss the criminal charges.
After the person is formally discharged, the defendant can petition for an Order of Nondisclosure with the appropriate court. There may be a mandatory waiting period. For instance, if the applicant received a deferred adjudication for a felony, he or she must wait five years from the date the case was discharged before seeking an Order of Nondisclosure. For some misdemeanors, there is a two-year waiting period, while other misdemeanors have none.
Some convictions are Eligible for Nondisclosure!
Beginning Sept. 1, 2017 Driving While Intoxicated cases may be eligible for nondisclosures. Additionally, the legislature added non-violent misdemeanor convictions where a person did jail time or regular probation to eligible offenses for nondisclosures. For most of these offenses there is a 2 year to 5 year waiting period and you cannot have any prior convictions or deferred adjudications. Additionally, for DWI’s the legislature made a 2 year waiting period if you had ignition interlock device on your car for at least 6 months of the probation. If you did not have ignition interlock, then there is a 5 year waiting period. If there was an accident or your blood alcohol concentration was over a 0.15 you likely are not eligible.
There are several types of criminal offenses where a defendant cannot receive an Order of Nondisclosure even if they successfully complete deferred adjudication. Ineligible offenses include those that requires the defendant to register as a sex offender, serious violent crimes like murder, and crimes involving family violence.
There is no automatic right to receive an Order of Nondisclosure. Even if a person meets all of the eligibility requirements, a judge must still determine if granting the order would be “in the best interest of justice.” If the judge denies the order, the applicant may appeal to a higher court.
It can take several months (and cost hundreds of dollars) to successfully obtain an Order of Nondisclosure. This is not something that you want to attempt without skilled legal representation. Brent D. Bowen, Attorney at Law, has represented many Denton-area residents who have a criminal record they would like to move past. If you need help from an experienced Texas nondisclosure order attorney, call us today at (940) 222-2488 or contact us by email to schedule a free consultation.