Everything You Need To Know About Nondisclosure Orders In Texas
If you have been arrested for a DWI (driving while intoxicated), your conviction is available to anyone as court records are public. In Texas, a DWI conviction can have severe consequences, including fines, jail time, and a criminal record. This can have many implications, from preventing you from holding specific professional licenses to limiting your job prospects. Fortunately, there is a legal solution available: nondisclosure orders.
What Is A Nondisclosure?
Nondisclosure is the effect of a court order that allows specific individuals to have their criminal records sealed, making them inaccessible to the general public and some employers. In Texas, nondisclosure is typically only available for certain misdemeanor offenses, including first-time DWI convictions.
Court orders of nondisclosure prevent public bodies, such as courts, clerks of the courts, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors offices, from releasing certain criminal records. You may benefit from a nondisclosure order if you have a criminal background.
In response to queries on employment applications, you are not compelled to divulge information linked to a crime subject to a nondisclosure order.
Note that a nondisclosure order pertains to a specific criminal offense, not all offenses on your criminal history record. However, you may still acquire numerous charges for various crimes.
A nondisclosure order protects your criminal history record by prohibiting companies from publishing information about specific offenses. There are, however, exceptions to the general norm. Even if the judge grants the order, the information may be obtained by police enforcement and certain state entities. Section 411.0765 of the Government Code contains a list of such agencies.
Nondisclosure Law In Texas
The specific law that governs non-disclosure in Texas is found in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. It provides for the sealing of criminal records in certain circumstances, including for first-time DWI convictions. The law outlines the eligibility requirements for non-disclosure and the process for obtaining an order of non-disclosure. It’s important to note that the law can change over time, and it’s always recommended to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney regarding your specific case.
How Nondisclosure Works
In Texas, the legislation controlling non-disclosure ensures that previous criminal records are sealed. However, police, federal authorities, and the state can still access the material. Previously, a person charged with a misdemeanor could be sentenced to probation or deferred adjudication supervision before being found guilty. If such a person completed probation, the case would be dismissed, and a non-disclosure order would be filed to keep the matter hidden from the general public.
However, the legislation did not allow DWI cases to be sealed. Fortunately, from September 2017, anyone convicted of DWI can apply to the court to have their DWI record sealed under certain conditions.
Ineligibility Of An Order Of Nondisclosure Under Section 411.0736
An Order of Nondisclosure may not be granted if:
- You have previously been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for another offense, except for a traffic offense punishable by fine only.
- Your commission of the DWI resulted in a motor vehicle accident involving another person, including any passenger in your vehicle, regardless of whether the person was injured or died.
- You are eligible for an Order of Nondisclosure under Section 411.0731.
- You did not complete your sentence, including serving any term of confinement imposed and paying all fines, costs, and restitution, except if the court waived all or part of the fine and costs charged.
- You were acquitted of an offense under Penal Code Section 49.04 for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
- Your DWI was a Class A misdemeanor or higher degree of offense or if your alcohol concentration level was 0.15 or more.
You may seek a nondisclosure order under Section 411.0736 in one of two ways:
- a) Three years after you finish your sentence if you completed a sentence condition requiring the use of an ignition interlock device for six months or longer; or
- b) Five years after your sentence is completed if the court did not mandate the use of an ignition interlock device or required the device to be used for less than six months.
Filing A Petition
To get an order of nondisclosure under Section 411.0736, you must submit a petition if you qualify. The form and instructions for the order can be found at this link.
The petition must be filed with the court that sentenced you and must include proof that you are eligible to file it. The court must determine that you are eligible to file the petition and that granting the order is in the best interest of justice. However, the court will not grant the order if the prosecutor presents evidence that the offense resulted in a motor vehicle accident involving another person.
Finally, filing fees and court costs must be paid when submitting the petition. If you cannot pay, you may submit a statement of inability to afford court costs, as outlined in Rule 145 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
Crimes That Aren’t Subject To Orders Of Non-Disclosure
Crimes related to alcohol
In some cases, nondisclosure orders cannot be used to seal alcohol-related misdemeanors. Several misdemeanors include boating and flying while intoxicated, selling alcohol to children/minors, and allowing minors to consume or possess alcohol. Additionally, DWI offenses with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher cannot be sealed.
Crimes unrelated to alcohol
Non-alcohol-related offenses such as aggravated kidnapping, murder, endangering or abandoning a child, requiring a person to be registered as a sex offender, and family violence offenses cannot be sealed using orders of nondisclosure.
Entities That Can Still See Your Sealed DWI Record
Non-disclosure does not imply exoneration. Your data is not erased or destroyed. However, disclosure is not permissible unless certain conditions are met. You have access to the records as a subject of the order. The same is valid for law enforcement. However, such data is only used for regulatory licensing and criminal justice purposes.
Procedure Following a Nondisclosure Order
If the court grants the nondisclosure order, the clerk will transmit a copy to DPS no later than 15 business days after the order is issued. DPS has ten business days after obtaining the order to seal, not erase, the criminal history record information subject to the charge and to submit a copy of the order to the state and federal authorities.
How Can A Lawyer Help
Anyone arrested for DWI knows that the criminal process can be long, stressful, and expensive. A conviction can result in jail time, a loss of your driver’s license, and a criminal record that can follow you for the rest of your life. If you face a DWI charge, you may consider pleading guilty and taking your chances with the court system. However, this is not always the best option.
An experienced DWI lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and the possible consequences of a conviction. He or she can also help you explore your legal options and prepare a strong defense. If you are eligible for a nondisclosure order, your lawyer can help you file the necessary paperwork and represent you in court.
A nondisclosure order will allow you to keep your DWI arrest and conviction off your permanent record. This means that potential employers, landlords, and others will not be able to see that you have been convicted of a crime. This can give you a fresh start and allow you to move on with your life.
If you are facing DWI charges in Texas, you must contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you get legal help, the better your chances of getting the outcome you want.
Why Hire An Attorney From The Medlin Law Firm?
Hiring an experienced DWI attorney is one of the best decisions you can make if facing a DWI charge. Nondisclosure orders are powerful tools, but petitions must be appropriately drafted and filed with the relevant court to be effective. That’s why you need experienced lawyers from The Medlin Law Firm when seeking nondisclosure orders—they know the ins and outs of the Texas legal system, understand the ramifications of such an order, and can ensure that all paperwork is completed correctly.
You may have never considered the need for a criminal defense attorney until now. The Medlin Law Firm can assist you. They have been representing people accused of crimes for nearly 102 years. During that time, they’ve helped thousands of people facing criminal accusations in Tarrant County and across Texas, with the advantage of focusing on criminal defense and no other form of law.
Contact The Medlin Law Firm NOW and get a FREE private evaluation to know what you can do about your DWI record. They have lawyers whose sole responsibility is helping individuals like you get rid of DWI records.
THE MEDLIN LAW FIRM
FOR A free EVALUATION