In the State of Texas, some people with criminal records wonder if there’s a way to mitigate the negative consequences of a past crime. Luckily, there are legal orders that might be able to help them. One of these is called non-disclosure.
What is a Non-Disclosure Order?
A non-disclosure is a court order in Texas is a legal mechanism that restricts public access to some individual’s criminal records. It requires law enforcement to conceal certain criminal offenses so they cannot be disclosed to the public, making them unavailable to most employers, landlords, etc. After receiving an order of non-disclosure, you can avoid disclosing that you were ever arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted, or placed on deferred adjudication/probation when asked about your criminal history. Note: Though such an order seals the records from public view, it is essential to understand that it does not completely expunge your criminal record as the legal process of expungement does.
Expungement vs. Non-Disclosure in Texas
While non-disclosure hides criminal records from the public other than law enforcement, licensing agencies, and some government organizations, expungement allows for the complete erasure of some criminal records. Expungement, officially referred to in Texas as expunction, removes all traces of certain eligible crimes, clearing the record as though they never occurred. The bottom line: an order of expunction destroys criminal records while an order of non-disclosure restricts access to criminal records.
How to Get an Order of Non-Disclosure in Texas
To obtain a non-disclosure order in Texas, you must follow a prescribed legal process. Here is a brief overview of the steps involved:
- Consult an Attorney
Consulting a reputable, professional attorney who has experience handling non-disclosure cases is crucial. He can assess your situation to determine eligibility, guide you through the process, and represent you in court.
- Determine Eligibility
Not all criminal offenses are eligible for non-disclosure in Texas. Generally, you must have completed a period of deferred adjudication successfully. That said, there may be other eligibility requirements depending on the specifics of the crime(s) in question.
- File a Petition
Your attorney will prepare a petition for non-disclosure on your behalf. It will include details about your case, the outcome of your deferred adjudication probation, and other relevant information. He will file the petition for you, submitting it to the court in the county where your case was heard.
- Background Check
After your petition has been submitted, the court will order a background check for you. If it confirms your eligibility for non-disclosure, your petition will proceed to a hearing.
- Attend the Hearing
You and/or your attorney will attend a court hearing where a judge will further review your case and consider your petition for non-disclosure. If the judge grants the order, your criminal record will be sealed from public view.
In Texas, non-disclosure orders offer some individuals with criminal records the chance to limit the public’s access to their past mistakes. Securing an order of non-disclosure in Texas is can help individuals seeking a fresh start after a criminal conviction. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in clearing criminal records through expunction and non-disclosure orders is your best first step. In Austin, Texas, or the surrounding area, consider seeking professional legal counsel from board-certified criminal defense attorney Brian Erskine of Erskine Law. You can schedule a free consultation with Law Maverick Brian Erskine by contacting Erskine Law at any time.