For many, minor criminal mistakes from the past will follow them around their entire lives like an embarrassing blemish. Every time a job application asks about a criminal record, many people reluctantly must expose a shameful moment from the past. Often, a person’s regrettable past, can cling to them like a dark shadow. However, what if that person’s past didn’t have to?
Recent changes in Texas Law have opened up new categories for nondisclosures. Obtaining an order for nondisclosure enables a sealing of one’s criminal record. For the hopeful employee, a sealing of their record, allows them to honestly answer that they do not have a criminal record. This incredible benefit has been expanded by recently enacted Texas Law.
Although expanded, the following list is some of the offenses that would not qualify under the new nondisclosure laws:
- Offenses requiring registration as a sex offender
- Family violence offenses
- 2nd or 3rd DWI offenses
- DWI involving an accident
- DWI with a BAC of .15 or higher
- Endangering a child
- Human trafficking
- Sexual Assault
If a person was found guilty and placed on community supervision for certain misdemeanors, they may qualify for an order of nondisclosure. The person must be in compliance with section 411.074 of the Texas Government Code, and couldn’t have been convicted or placed on deferred-adjudication probation for another offense during the waiting period. The waiting period can vary, but is typically two years for most misdemeanors and five years for felonies.
Another person that may qualify for a nondisclosure disorder is one who was convicted of a misdemeanor, but not placed on probation. After this individual completes their sentence, which includes confinement, they too may qualify for an order of nondisclosure. If two years have passed since this person completed their sentence, they may qualify to have their record sealed if the offense was not violent or sexual in nature. Also, this person would only qualify if they had not been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for any offense other than a traffic violation within that two year window.
Perhaps the biggest change however comes from Texas’ treatment of first-time DWI offenses. In the past, going to trial on a DWI was almost guaranteed, because the worst-case scenario was that you would end up with a DWI conviction on your record anyway. The recent changes to Texas Law however, have opened up the possibility of obtaining a non-disclosure. A person who is arrested for their first DWI and completes community supervision may qualify. That person must not have been involved in an accident during the incident, must have never previously been placed on deferred adjudication probation, been convicted, or had a BAC above a .15. Lastly, they must satisfy the waiting period statutorily required. A two year period is required if an ignition interlock is a part of the probation terms for at least six months. A five year period is required if an ignition interlock is not a part of the probation terms for six months.
Texas Law has made obtaining an order for nondisclosure more available to the public. The extended reach of the laws should enable more persons to successfully have their records sealed. The changes that became effective September of 2017 have a retroactive effect which means, that it is a law which effects not only present and future law, but reaches backwards in time as well. Practically, this makes the changes to Texas law effective and applicable before, during, and after 2018. With the new changes in place, much more people are eligible to have their records sealed. The benefits of which are a clear conscious, peace of mind, the loss of a negative label, the abandonment of a bad stigma, and the added bonus of being more hirable.
If you are interested in learning more about nondisclosures and to see if you qualify, please call (830) 629-6955. We look forward to hearing from you, and would like the chance to meet with you today!
*This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide personal legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship for any purpose. For an analysis of your personal case facts, call our firm to set up a consultation.*