Understanding What An Order Of Non-Disclosure Is

order of non-disclosure

A criminal record can follow a person long after they complete any probationary period or sentence, making it difficult to obtain employment, housing, or even professional licensing. In Texas, after meeting specific qualifications, it is possible to petition the court for a record sealing, or Order of Non-Disclosure.

With an Order of Non-Disclosure, once a criminal history record is sealed, the general public, including background check services, will not be able to view it. However, criminal justice agencies are permitted access to the sealed information and can supply the information to other law enforcement agencies along with licensing and employment entities specified by Texas law.

An Order of Non-Disclosure is not an expunction or expungement. An expunction is a court order disallowing the release or use of a person’s criminal record for any reason. After receiving an expunction, a person can deny they were arrested or had a record expunged unless asked under oath in a criminal trial.

Who Is Eligible For An Order Of Non-Disclosure?

Eligibility for an Order of Non-Disclosure requires a person to meet six conditions. They are as follows:

  1. The offense in question ended in a deferred adjudication.
  2. The deferred adjudication was successfully completed.
  3. The offense itself qualifies for an Order of Non-Disclosure.
  4. The person cannot have any disqualifying criminal history.
  5. If required, any waiting period after dismissal or discharge of the qualifying offense must pass.
  6. The person cannot incur any new convictions from the date of the order of dismissal and discharge plus any applicable waiting period of the qualifying offense, as described above.

If all six of the foregoing requirements are met, a person qualifies to file a Petition for Order of Non-Disclosure.

The waiting period after dismissal or discharge for felonies is five years, and there is a two-year waiting period for serious misdemeanors. If the misdemeanor punishment consisted of a fine only, there is no waiting period. Otherwise, there is a two-year waiting period after the successful completion of a sentence to apply for an Order of Non-Disclosure.

Close relatives of a deceased person with a criminal record that is eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure can apply on their behalf. The law defines a close relative as; a parent, grandparent, spouse, or adult brother, sister, or child of the deceased person.

Crimes Never Eligible For An Order Of Non-Disclosure

There are some crimes never eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure. These include the following:

  • Any crime requiring registration as a sex offender;
  • Aggravated kidnapping;
  • Murder;
  • Human trafficking;
  • Child endangerment or abandonment;
  • Any family violence offense; and
  • Stalking.

A complete list of ineligible crimes is available in Texas Code.

How Do I File A Petition For An Order Of Non-Disclosure?

A Petition for an Order of Non-Disclosure is filed with the clerk of the court that handled the qualifying offense. There is a filing fee, but it varies depending on the county. It is ultimately up to the judge whether or not to grant the Order of Non-Disclosure.

The State is automatically sent a copy of the Petition for an Order of Non-Disclosure. The State is permitted to request a hearing before the 45th day after receiving notice of the filing of the petition. If a hearing is requested, attendance is mandatory.

If the State does not request a hearing, the judge may still decide to do so. Notice is provided of the hearing, and attendance is mandatory. The judge will determine if the Petition for an Order of Non-Disclosure is valid and, if so, whether issuing the Order of Non-Disclosure is in the best interest of justice.

Do I Need An Attorney To Obtain An Order Of Non-Disclosure?

Any time you have questions about a legal process or need legal advice, you should contact an attorney. An experienced criminal law attorney has the knowledge and can provide the support needed to ensure your Petition for an Order of Non-Disclosure is approved. The attorneys at Vinas & Graham are ready to assist you in determining whether your criminal record qualifies for an Order of Non-Disclosure or if another route is your best option.

The laws surrounding criminal records are constantly evolving and changing. Therefore, it is important to contact the office of Vinas & Graham to ensure your understanding of the law is current. Recently statutes were enacted that could positively affect your criminal record outcome. Be sure to check us out on Facebook for other Texas laws and information.

When Would You Need an Order Of Non-Disclosure?

Order Of Non-Disclosure

Most of us do what we can to lead a lawful life and stay out of trouble. Aside from a speeding ticket here or there, most of us manage to avoid any serious legal infractions and keep a clean record. But unfortunately, things do happen – serious things with serious consequences.

The outcomes of a criminal conviction are extensive, especially when it pertains to current or future employment and the ability to continue your career. Once you have a criminal record, it can mean the loss of your job. And it can make it very difficult for you to find a job in the future. Not only that, but if you were up for promotion, you could pretty much assume that you are no longer eligible (and that is to say if you are even still employed).

A criminal conviction and the resulting record can even mean cancellation, revocation, or denial of professional licenses, which can make it hard if your employment is based on a licensed profession.

If you served or are serving in the military, a criminal conviction will likely result in a reduction of your pay grade and a reduction in rank. It wouldn’t be altogether surprising too if you received a dishonorable discharge which will mean the end of your military career.

The criminal justice system in Texas is very familiar with the impact that a criminal conviction and record will have on an individual. As a result, state legislatures are taking steps to reduce the burden on offenders by leveraging orders of non-disclosure.

What is an Order Of Non-Disclosure?

An order of non-disclosure is a specific type of court order that strictly prohibits certain public entities, (courts and police) from disclosing particular information about your criminal record. An order of non-disclosure can help you if you are the offender, by legally freeing you from the obligation to disclose your criminal record background when asked applicable questions on job applications.

But it is important to note that an order of non-disclosure is not all-encompassing. Your criminal record still available to criminal justice agencies as it pertains to criminal prosecutions and to specific non-criminal organizations in the legal, medical, and educational space.

How Can I Obtain A Non-Disclosure?

There are certain eligibility requirements to obtain a non-disclosure. To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have been placed on deferred adjudication community supervision
  • If you were convicted of the crime, you are not eligible to apply for an order of non-disclosure
  • You must successfully complete the deferred adjudication

Once it is determined you are eligible, the process to request a non-disclosure is fairly straightforward. Your first step will be to file a petition in the same court with which the criminal charge was filed against you. You will need to pay a filing fee, and the cost for this will vary from county to county.

Once your petition has been filed, and the district attorney’s office has been informed of your petition, you can set the matter for hearing. This hearing will take place within just a few weeks of you filing the petition. And, at the hearing, you need to show to the court that you are eligible for the non-disclosure and that the non-disclosure of your records is in the best interest of justice.

Your judge can be influenced by several things including whether or not you have
complied with the conditions of community supervision, the amount of time that has elapsed since community supervision ended, your overall criminal history, the facts in your underlying case, and any effect that not sealing the records might have you in the future.

Having a reputable attorney that can support you and argue your case on your behalf will provide a significant advantage. If it is then determined by the judge that you are eligible, the non-disclosure will be signed, and it will be sealed to the general public in approximately three to five weeks.

The following offenses will make you ineligible for a non-disclosure:

  • Murder
  • Capital murder
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Domestic violence or other family violence
  • Abandonment or endangerment of a child
  • Violation of a family violence protection order
  • Sex offenses that require you to register as a sex offender
  • Injury to a child or disabled or elderly individual

It is also important to note that if you are eligible for an order of non-disclosure, you must wait for a specified time period after the court orders a dismissal and discharge for you. For misdemeanors, you must wait two years. For felonies, you must wait five years.

Learn More About Non-Disclosures

To learn more about how a non-disclosure can help you, contact Vinas & Graham, PLLC about your case. Whether you are facing charges for a DWI or DUI, drug possession, drug delivery, theft, robbery, aggravated assault, or more, you need experienced and top-rated criminal lawyers to fight for you.

The government has nearly unlimited resources at work for them, and you do not want to fight them alone. Don’t settle for less than the best legal representation you can find. You need a team of advocates on your side with the right experience to get the best possible results on your case.