Houston Sealing of Criminal Records through Motion for Non-Disclosure
We can help you seal your records in Houston, Harris County, and surrounding areas. Contact Defense Attorney Carl Haggard for a free no-obligation confidential consultation. Carl is an Ex-Prosecutor with over 30 years of experience helping clients seal records.
For information on the September 2015 changes to the Non-Disclosure law (applicable for 1st time misdemeanors), click New Texas Non-Disclosure Law.
NON-DISCLOSURES IN HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS
With the onslaught of internet informational and public records providers, your arrest and charge records are becoming increasingly available to the public.Some offenses carry a two–year waiting period before becoming eligible for a Non-Disclosure Order [a.k.a. sealing].
This two year waiting period means two years from the date of discharge and dismissal from deferred adjudication probation; not two years from the date of arrest.
The most common charges requiring this two-year waiting period for a Non-Disclosure are:
- Indecent Exposure
- Public Lewdness
- Disorderly Conduct
- False Report
- Interference with Emergency Telephone Call
- Animal Cruelty
- Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon
Felony charges carry a five-year waiting period to file a Motion for Non-Disclosure. During this five year waiting period the applicant must not have been convicted of any offense or placed on deferred adjudication for any offense [except for traffic offenses resulting in a fine].
Anyone who’s ever been convicted, including taking straight probation – which is a conviction, or who has been given deferred adjudication for any of the following charges is not eligible to seal any subsequent case.
- Any offense requiring registration as a Sex Offender
- Injury to a Child, Elderly or Disabled Person
- Endangering a Child
- Violation of a Protective Order
- Any offense involving Family Violence
What is a Motion for Non-Disclosure?
This is a Motion filed to seal those misdemeanor offenses which are eligible to be sealed or hidden from the public. Only qualified deferred adjudication cases are eligible; no straight probation case is eligible for sealing.
My deferred adjudication was unsuccessfully terminated. Can I get this case sealed?
No. This is only available in those qualified cases where the defendant has successfully completed a deferred adjudication probation.
Is there a waiting period to apply for a Non-Disclosure Order?
Some misdemeanor charges are eligible for sealing immediately after completion of deferred adjudication; others have a waiting period of several years; contact our office.
If my attorney applies for a Non-Disclosure Order, is it guaranteed?
No. A Hearing must be held before the judge in the court of original jurisdiction.
If the Motion is granted, who receives the Order of Non-Disclosure?
Basically, everyone who may have your records is ordered to seal them.
Is my criminal history, once sealed, available by a public records request?
No, once sealed, your records are not available by a public records request.
If the Motion is granted, what can I deny?
You can deny both the arrest and the prosecution.
After my record has been sealed, if I’m asked on an employment application if I have ever been placed on deferred adjudication, can I answer “no”?Yes! And it’s legal.
What about private entities – are they affected by an Order of Non-Disclosure?
Yes, all private entities that collect and compile criminal history records must comply with the Non-Disclosure Order under penalty of fines.
Can any misdemeanor case be sealed?
Certain restrictions apply, and not all types of misdemeanor charges are eligible to be sealed. Call our Houston Non-Disclosure attorneys to find out if your case is eligible.
Can my felony case be sealed?
Certain types of felony cases are also eligible to be sealed; however, there is a waiting period of five years beyond the successful completion of a felony deferred adjudication probation. Straight probation cases cannot be sealed.
Will sealing my records hide them from everyone?
No. Once your records have been sealed, they are no longer a part of public record and are no longer available to the general public. However, they remain available to governmental agencies such as law enforcement, judges, prosecutors and other qualified personnel in the criminal justice system, schools, hospitals, and state and federal agencies.
For a complete list, click here.
So judges, police and DA’s can still have access to my sealed records; under what circumstances could they use it against me?
Only if needed to convict you in a subsequent criminal case.
My case was sealed but when I applied for a job they had found out about it. Whose fault is this? How can this happen?
It is not your attorney’s fault or the fault of the court system. Most likely the private entity used a background check company which used information from a Texas DPS database that had not been updated: it’s the fault of the background check company. Criminal background check companies purchase criminal history databases from DPS and may continue to use stale databases which have not been updated to reflect the records that have been sealed. So, even if a search of the DPS Public Search Database reveals “No Matching Records” and a Houston search shows “clear”, a private entity could still see your sealed criminal record if their background check company uses stale databases.
What can I do if this happens to me?
Recent statutes by the Texas Legislature have provided a measure of relief. Texas Government Code Section 552.1425 provides a civil penalty of up to $1000 per violation to a company that uses a stale database. Contact DPS Crime Records Service to report the violation. If they violate the law twice, they are out of business for a year as DPS is not allowed to release any criminal record information to them for one year from the date of the most recent violation. Report violations!
The most recent legislation provides that background check companies can only disseminate information from DPS if it was obtained within the last ninety days. The violator is liable to the petitioner for any damages, court costs and attorney’s fees associated with the violation.
The following agencies or entities can receive sealed records information:
Any state or federally regulated agency or licensing board.
Any law enforcement or criminal justice entity – police departments, DA’s, etc.
You or your attorney can also see your own sealed record.
List is extensive but not exhaustive:
- Banks and Financial Institutions
- Critical Infrastructure Companies
- Board for Educator Certification
- School Districts
- Charter Schools
- Private Schools
- Commercial Transportation Companies or Education Shared Service Arrangement
- Texas State Board of Medical Examiners
- Texas School for the Blind
- Board of Law Examiners
- State Bar of Texas
- District Court Regarding a Petition for Name Change
- Texas School for the Deaf
- Department of Family and Protective Services
- Texas Youth Commission
- Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
- Department of State Health Services
- Any Local Mental Health Services
- Texas Private Security Board
- Municipal or Volunteer Fire Departments
- Board of Nurse Examiners
- Safe Houses Providing Shelter to Children
- Public or Non-Profit Hospital or Hospital Districts
- Texas Juvenile Probation Commission
- Securities Commissioner
- Banking Commissioner
- Savings and Loan Commissioner
- Credit Union Commissioner
- Texas State Board of Public Accountancy
- Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
- Health and Human Services Commission
- Department of Aging and Disability Services
Helpful Sealing and Expunction Links
- New Texas Law: 1st Time Misdemeanor Convictions Now Can Be Sealed
- Expunction Legal Information
- Houston Expunction Court Information
The Haggard Law Firm accepts selected criminal defense cases in Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, Brazoria, Montgomery, Matagorda and surrounding Texas counties. Affordable representation; payment plans arranged in some cases. We represent clients in all Misdemeanor Courts, Felony Courts, Juvenile Court and Federal Court.