A Petition for Non-Disclosure is an intermediate tool used to clean someone’s record. It essentially hides your record from the public. It is not as sweeping or as beneficial as an expunction, but it can lessen the blunt force of a conviction.
The Non-Disclosure statute is very complicated and is loaded with qualifications and exceptions. What it means, in general, is that your criminal record stays intact (unlike an expunction where an arrest record is destroyed), but the state is limited in it’s ability to disseminate the information of your record to the general public. As you can see by reading the statute, there are numerous agencies which are exempted from honoring the non-disclosure (such as professional licensing bodies), and there are tons of offense which don’t qualify for non-disclosures (such as sexual assault, stalking, and family violence affirmative findings).
Here is how it generally works: If you plead guilty and are placed on deferred adjudication, you may be eligible to file a petition for non-disclosure two years after the date of your Tex.Code.Crim.P. 42.12(5)(c) dismissal on misdemeanor cases and five years after the dismissal of your felony. Your petition is discretionary meaning the prosecution can fight it and you must prove to the judge that granting it is in the best interests of justice.
The code was recently amended to allow for immediate non-disclosure of most misdemeanor offenses after successfully being discharged from deferred adjudication.
The benefit of a petition for non-disclosure is that your criminal record shouldn’t be readily available to private companies that do general background searches. The downfall is that they can be challenging to get and even though the information s difficult to attain, it hasn’t been destroyed as with expunctions.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. For legal advice you should always consult an attorney.