A criminal past can haunt you for life. Arrests, charges and convictions are ordinarily public records that may be accessed by anyone and be used to deny you employment, credit, housing and education. They can also tarnish your reputation in the community and follow you even if you relocate.
Fortunately, Texas law provides a form of relief from this stigma. In eligible cases, a state judge can issue a non-disclosure order that prohibits courts, prosecutors, police and other government agencies from disclosing information about a criminal case. If you obtain this order, your record is not accessible to the public and you don’t have to reveal it on most job applications or when seeking other benefits.
Your entitlement to a non-disclosure order and the requirements for obtaining it depend on multiple factors, including:
- Disposition of your case — You are more likely to be eligible if you successfully completed a deferred adjudication, a veterans’ treatment court program or a veterans’ reemployment program. The disposition of your case can also affect how long you must wait before applying for an order. In some cases, the wait time is up to five years.
- Nature of the offense — You are usually eligible if you were charged with a misdemeanor and received deferred adjudication. You are ineligible if you were charged with certain violent crimes and sex crimes, including domestic violence.
- Repeat offenses — You might be ineligible if you were convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for another crime during the waiting period for seeking a non-disclosure order.
- Human trafficking exception — You may be eligible for a non-disclosure order if you were forced to commit a crime while you were a victim of human trafficking.
A non-disclosure order is obtained by making a motion to a judge, along with your criminal record and documentation demonstrating your eligibility. An order covers only a single criminal matter, but you may seek multiple orders if you qualify for each on an individual basis. It can be greatly beneficial to pursue the order with the assistance of a criminal attorney experienced in sealing of criminal records.
Kevin L. Collins, P.C. in San Antonio provides effective criminal defense representation to people in Bexar County and throughout south central Texas. Call us at 210-598-8629 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.