It is important to consider the likelihood of non-disclosure in Texas if you are interested in expunction or record sealing for your past charges or convictions. You are eligible for non-disclosure if you have successfully completed a deferred adjudication probation, have been discharged early from a deferred adjudication probation or if you plead guilty and have a conviction on your record. An experienced expunction attorney can help you establish a case for non-disclosure.
What is Deferred Adjudication Probation?
Conviction may be deferred while the individual facing charges completed a period of community supervision, including adhering to probation terms, paying fines, and attending classes or treatment, the judge will dismiss their indictment or information, set aside the verdict, and release the individual from any penalties they would have faced if convicted. While someone would not qualify for expunction because they have served a period of probation, they would be eligible for non-disclosure, in which case all records of their case would be sealed.
Likelihood of Being Discharged Early
The judge may decide to discharge someone early from community supervision, and at that time their term of deferred adjudication will be considered successfully completed. At this point, they will be eligible for non-disclosure and all records of their case will be sealed.
Pleading Guilty with a Conviction
If an individual was convicted of a misdemeanor offense, were sentenced to or served any jail time, and they were not previously convicted or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for anything (other than traffic tickets,) they may be entitled to a non-disclosure at the appropriate time. This applies only to certain types of misdemeanor offenses, such as a DWI. If someone succeeds in being awarded non-disclosure, law enforcement agencies, some licensing boards, and other entities will still be able to access the individual’s sealed files, but only under very specific circumstances.
They will be able to see the charge and the person’s level of involvement with the criminal justice system. However, individuals who may see records down the line will not be a part of government agencies and departments with a greater depth of understanding and familiarity with the criminal justice system, legal proceedings, and the like. For the most part, the general public will have no access to any record of someone’s involvement with the system.
Accessibility of a Non-Disclosure Agreement
While non-disclosure is a much more accessible option than expunction, there are still many exceptions that would disqualify someone. The goal of non-disclosure eligibility is providing the opportunity to give people a second chance. Which means if someone is charged with anything other than a minor misdemeanor while on deferred adjudication, they might decrease their likelihood of non-disclosure in Texas.
When is Non-Disclosure Not Considered an Option?
Some offenses simply cannot be sealed off, despite successfully completing deferred adjudication or early discharge from deferred adjudication probation. These include second and third-offense DWIs, as well as any offense that would require someone to register as a sex offender.
Included on the list of denial, are an injury to a child, abandoning a child, family violence, aggravated kidnapping, violation of a protective order, stalking, and murder. If someone has ever been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any of these charges, they cannot seek non-disclosure for those or any other offenses.
Benefit of Working with Legal Counsel
If non-disclosure is a goal for you from the beginning of your case, you can work with your lawyer increase the likelihood of non-disclosure in Texas. Set a goal at the beginning of your case to obtain a non-disclosure and clean up your record.
Then, you and your lawyer can make it a priority to get your charges reduced, or changed to charges that are not disqualified from non-disclosure. You can adopt a more aggressive strategy to get charges against you dropped and move forward with expunction if your case is strong.
Consult with your attorney to see whether non-disclosure is actually an option for you, before you get your hopes up or file your petition. There is no use in spending time and energy on something that cannot be attained when you could instead focus on working toward your best possible outcome. The first step is to identify what your options are and then work with your lawyer to assess the best path to get there.