Austin, TX

Order Of Non-Disclosure

Order of Nondisclosure Lawyer | Sealing Criminal Records in Texas

Having a clean criminal history is important. An Order of Nondisclosure in Texas is a legal document that allows individuals to effectively seal their criminal record from public access. This means that general public entities, including prospective employers and landlords, won’t have access to these sealed records.

However, certain law enforcement agencies, certain employers (like schools and hospitals) and other public entities can still access these records under specific circumstances even when your background check is clear. If you have questions about what an order of nondisclosure actually does, or if you are ready to seal your criminal record, fill out a contact form, or call ATX Legal for a free consultation.

What's the value of a clean slate? Once the Court orders your records sealed with a non-disclosure, the general public and private background check companies cannot view them.

What is Nondisclosure of a Criminal Case?

Nondisclosure of a criminal case refers to the process of legally restricting access to an individual’s criminal record. This order can be immensely beneficial to individuals who have completed deferred adjudication community supervision or those convicted on certain nonviolent misdemeanors. It allows them to lead a life without the constant implications and limitations of a criminal record.

Who is Eligible for an Order of Nondisclosure?

The eligibility for nondisclosure under the Texas Government Code (411.701) depends on a variety of factors, including the nature of the offense, the type of supervision completed, and the offender’s overall criminal history.

Individuals who have successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision or who have certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions may be eligible. Additionally, completion of a veteran’s treatment court program can automatically lead to eligibility.

Completion of deferred adjudication community supervision is the most common way to qualify. However, certain criminal records involving family violence cases, sexual assault that requires sex offender registration, or other serious misdemeanors or felonies may disqualify an individual. See below for some exceptions.

Who is NOT Eligible for an Order of Nondisclosure?

Not everyone is eligible for an order of nondisclosure of their criminal history in Texas. For instance, an individual is not eligible if they have previously been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication probation for an offense involving family violence, sexual assault, or other offense requiring registration as a sex offender.

Furthermore, individuals who have committed certain violent misdemeanors or any form of aggravated kidnapping are also not eligible. The Government Code in this area is complicated. If you have questions about eligibility, the best thing you can do is seek out a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer.

If eligible for a nondisclosure, it can be a good idea, because you never know when it could affect an employment opportunity.

Petition for an Order of Nondisclosure in Texas

Nondisclosure laws are found in the Texas Government Code. Filing a petition for an order of nondisclosure is the first step in the process. This involves submitting a formal request to the court, often accompanied by a filing fee and court costs of approximately $500 (can vary). The court then reviews the request and any submitted exhibits, considering factors such as criminal history, the nature of the offense, and whether granting the order would be in the best interest of justice.

Even though judge does have discretion to deny the request in the best interest of justice, this rarely occurs in practice if the petition is filled out correctly. Typically, the judge signs the order at the hearing as a formality.

The Court Process

Procedures for non-disclosure, spelled out in the Texas Government Code, require a person eligible for an order of non-disclosure or their lawyer to petition the court to seal your record. The Court then sets the petition for non-disclosure for a hearing, where the Texas Department of Public Safety, the prosecutor, or other law enforcement agency may object and contest the hearing.

If there is no objection and the Court determines that the person is eligible for a nondisclosure, the Court grants the Order and it is sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety and other public entities. The court order prohibits public entities from releasing the information about the particular criminal offense.

What is the Waiting Period to Petition for an Order of Nondisclosure in Texas?

The waiting periods to petition for an order of nondisclosure in Texas court records begin when the person placed on deferred adjudication or probation completes their community supervision. For misdemeanors, there is generally a two-year waiting period, whereas felonies often require a five-year waiting period after community supervision ends. However, for certain misdemeanors, there is no required waiting period after deferred adjudication is complete.

Importantly, unlike an expunction, the Court does NOT have the authority to waive the waiting period. Therefore, the Texas Government Code rules the day, and you simply have to wait it out. Calculations begin only after completing deferred adjudication.

Non-disclosure Orders can take months to become effective. It's better not to wait.

What is the difference between an expunction and a nondisclosure?

Expunction orders and non-disclosure orders are two distinct legal processes in Texas. Expunction refers to the complete erasure of a criminal record, whereas nondisclosure simply seals the record from public view.

An expunction order is typically applicable in instances where charges were dismissed, the individual was acquitted, or the case was never prosecuted. On the other hand, nondisclosure orders are often available to individuals who have been placed on deferred adjudication and have successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision and for certain misdemeanor convictions.

Who can still see my record?

While an order of nondisclosure seals the criminal offense from the general public, certain entities can still access your records. These entities typically include law enforcement agencies, licensing boards, public schools, and other government bodies.

This means that while your record might be safe from potential employers or landlords, it is still accessible to these entities. It can also be visible to certain licensing agencies, so if this is your main concern, a non-disclosure order may not be able to help.


Can I Get an Order of Nondisclosure for a DWI conviction in Texas?

Yes, recent changes to Texas law have made it possible for individuals with certain DWI convictions to apply for an order of nondisclosure.

However, this is dependent on specific factors, including whether the DWI was a misdemeanor offense, the level of alcohol in the person’s blood at the time of the offense, and whether the offense involved any accidents or injuries. An ignition interlock device while on probation can shrink the waiting period in these cases.

Can I do a nondisclosure on my own?

While it is possible to petition for an order of nondisclosure of criminal records on your own, the process can be complex and lengthy. It involves an understanding of Texas law, the applicable waiting period, completing and filing various legal forms, and potentially arguing your case before a judge. Therefore, it’s often recommended to seek legal assistance.

How long does the process take?

The length of the process to secure an order of nondisclosure for criminal records can vary based on several factors. These include the nature of the offense, the specific court handling the case, and whether there are any complicating factors involved.

However, on average, the process often takes between 6 months from the day the judge signs the order of nondisclosure. Remember, this is in addition to the waiting period following completion of deferred adjudication.

Can I have a family violence finding sealed?

Not all offenses can be sealed, even after successful completion of deferred adjudication probation. An affirmative finding of family violence cannot be sealed with a non-disclosure under Texas law. Family violence cases are generally considered to be of public interest, and the law often leans towards maintaining transparency in these cases.

Non-disclosure orders can be the first step in moving past your criminal history. ATX Legal attorney Rob Chesnutt can help you get there.

Contact ATX Legal for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one need assistance with an order of nondisclosure in Texas, don’t hesitate to contact ATX Legal. Experienced criminal defense lawyer Rob Chesnutt can help guide you through the process, ensuring that your case is handled professionally and efficiently. Fill out a contact form today for a free consultation.

Non-Disclosure vs. Expunction

Now that you know some of the situations in which Non-Disclosures and expunctions apply, let’s talk about what is the difference between the two.  When your criminal record is expunged, it is literally destroyed.  Agencies like DPS, the Court, and police are required by law to remove the records from their electronic database and destroy the physical records.  When done properly, no one has the records, and it’s as if they never existed.

This is not the case with an Order of Non-Disclosure.  When you petition the court to seal your records with a Non-Disclosure, you are not asking them to destroy the records.  They will still exist and would be accessible to law enforcement, prosecutors, certain employers (like schools and hospitals), and other State and Federal Agencies.  

The main benefit of non-disclosure is that the records are removed from the view of the general public.  Other than the exceptions listed above, most employers will not be able to find the record.  It won’t show up in criminal background searches done by the general public.  Snooping neighbors won’t be able to find anything.  You even have the right to demand that private company that aggregate records and mugshots remove your information (unscrupulous companies sometimes ignore these requests, but can usually be persuaded with some Court-ordered prompting.)

There are also downsides.  If your record is keeping you from getting a professional license, a license to carry a firearm, or a job with law enforcement, a hospital, or certain other employers, sealing the record will not help.  It also will not help you deal with immigration issues.  It is important to talk to a criminal defense attorney about the reasons for the Non-Disclosure before moving forward with it.

The Process Of An Order Of Non-Disclosure

If you think you are eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure, the first step is usually to have an attorney review your criminal history.  In Texas, you can get your criminal history from a private company called Identogo.  You can make an appointment at www.Identogo.com.  After collecting information and documents regarding the original arrest and court case, a petition for Non-Disclosure is filed in the same court where the case took place.  The Court then sets a hearing to allow the prosecutor and agencies time to object.  Most courts do not require the defendant’s presence at the hearing, but some counties do.  Defer to your attorney if he or she tells you to be present.

Assuming the petition is filed correctly, the order is signed by the judge on the day of the hearing.  The entities with information regarding the charge are then informed of the Order and are required to seal the records – meaning they are removed from public view.  The entities have up to a year to comply, but usually do so within a few months or even sooner.

Should I Get My Records Sealed?

Whether you get your records sealed is a personal decision and depends on your individual circumstances.  I recommend that almost everyone who is eligible for an expunction does so.  Erasing the records from existence is a huge benefit.  On the other hand, an Order of Non-Disclosure is more limited in scope.

For many people, a sealed criminal history will not solve the problem they are facing.  It will not help them purchase a firearm or clear up their issues with immigration.  For others, it will keep employers in their field from viewing the record, and so can mean the difference in landing the job or remaining unemployed.  Beyond these reasons, there is peace of mind in knowing that the mistakes you made years ago are not out there for any John Q. Public to view.  For many, this alone is worth it.  We charge a flat fee of $1600 to Petition the Court for Non-Disclosure.  This includes all court fees that usually range between $400-$500.

Contact a Trusted Austin Attorney To Seal Your Records

If you feel that you may be eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure, you should contact a proven Austin Order of Non-Disclosure attorney to handle this for you.  Although not required, it can be helpful to have a copy of your criminal history on hand when you call.  Once we have all your documents together, we can usually file the petition as soon as the next business day.

505 West 12th Street, Suite 200 Austin Texas 78701

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