Record Sealing Attorney: Orders of Non-Disclosure

Most people erroneously believe that their record is "cleared" upon the successful completion of Deferred Adjudication.  Many people are extremely surprised that nothing could be further from the truth.

An Expunction is only granted to those who received a dismissal or an acquittal following a criminal case.  However, those who complete "Deferred Adjudication" probation may be eligible to receive an Order of Non-Disclosure.  This provides individuals with the ability to seek a limited "sealing" of their Texas criminal history record.  Please note that if your Deferred Adjudication probation was imposed by the justice court or municipal court for a Class C misdemeanor, then you may be entitled to seek an Order of Expunction in lieu of an Order of Nondisclosure.  However, this is not the case if your Class C charge was reduced from a higher charged criminal offense.

Under Section 411.081(d) of the Texas Government Code, a court can prohibit criminal justice agencies from disclosing to the public criminal history record information related to certain offenses for which the individual was placed on Deferred Adjudication Probation by issuing an Order of Non-Disclosure.  However, pursuant to Section 411.081(e)(1)-(4), there are some offenses for which an Order of Non-Disclosure is not available. These include, but may not be limited to, offenses include crimes that require registration as a sex offender, aggravated kidnapping, murder, injury to a child, stalking, or any offense that involves family violence. Moreover, an individual may also be disqualified if they commit any offense (other than a minor traffic violation) after the Deferred Adjudication has been completed (but before filing the Petition seeking the Order for Non-Disclosure).

There are waiting periods for filing a Petition seeking an Order of Non-Disclosure under Section 411.081(d).  Hence, you may be required to wait a certain period of time after the date of discharge and dismissal of your criminal case before filing the Petition.  The waiting period, if any, will depend on the type of offense you are seeking to "seal" from public view.   There is a 5-year waiting period for ALL felony offenses.  There is also a 2-year waiting period for misdemeanor offenses listed under Section 411.081(d)(2), including, but not limited to, assault, deadly conduct, disorderly conduct, and unlawfully carrying a weapon.  There is not a waiting period for all other misdemeanor criminal offenses.  Section 411.081(d)(2) only pertains to offenses under Chapters 20, 21, 22, 25, 42, or 46 of the Texas Penal Code.

The effect of having the criminal arrest "sealed" with an Order of Non-Disclosure is very powerful.  The individual may deny the existence of the arrest and prosecution to which otherwise public information relates, unless it is being used against her/him in a subsequent prosecution. Texas Government Code, Section 552.142. What this basically means is that a person can deny the very occurrence of the case, unless they are testifying at a trial and then would have to admit they successfully completed deferred adjudication (and subsequently had their record sealed). While not an expunction technically, this still is a very effective technique for having records sealed for most people looking to keep potential employers from viewing past indiscretions.  

After the Order of Non-Disclosure is granted by the judge presiding in the court where your original criminal case transpired, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) must provide a copy of the Order of Non-Disclosure to all private entities that have the ability to access the Texas DPS criminal database. This should prevent members of the general public from having access to information about your criminal offense that was the subject of the Order. The biggest difference, in this respect, in the difference between an Expunction and a Non-Disclosure is that certain entities WILL have access to your criminal record.  These entities include criminal justice agencies, school districts, public hospitals, and state licensing boards (all of these are government agencies).  However, these governmental agencies/entities will no longer will able to legally release the information contained to members of the general public or to non-exempted employers who are trying to perform a background check on you.

Please call The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder at 214.702.CARL(2275) to discuss any questions you have related to an Order of Non-Disclosure.  Our office can happily assist those in need of completent, thorough, and professional legal advice to all residents of Texas, especially those in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, including those in Dallas County, Tarrant County, Collin County, Denton County, Ellis County, Rockwall County, and all adjoining areas. Call our office today for a free consultation.