A petition for nondisclosure is the procedure through which a person can have certain aspects of his or her criminal record shielded from public view. As of September 15, 2015, the law related to petitions for nondisclosure in Texas has changed. Importantly, the changes do not apply to offenses that occurred before September 15, 2015.
Petitions for nondisclosure now cost $28 in all courts. This differs from the previous system in which there was no filing fee for petitions filed in county courts (for nondisclosure of misdemeanors) and a filing fee in excess of $200 for petitions filed in district courts (for nondisclosure of felonies).
Automatic Nondisclosure of Deferred Adjudication in Texas
A key feature of the new law and significant change is the automatic nondisclosure of certain misdemeanor deferred adjudications. This means that for certain offenses, nondisclosure is automatic as long as certain requirements are met. Automatic nondisclosure is governed by Chapter 411.072 of the Texas Government Code.
What are the Requirements for Automatic Nondisclosure?
In order for a defendant to receive an automatic nondisclosure, the following must occur:
- the defendant successfully completes deferred adjudication; and
- the court does not make an affirmative finding that nondisclosure is not in the best interest of justice; and
- the defendant has paid the $28 fee to the clerk
Who is Eligible for Automatic Nondisclosure?
Automatic nondisclosure of misdemeanor deferred adjudications applies in the following situations:
- The misdemeanor for which the defendant was placed on deferred adjudication
- did not involve family violence
- was not for kidnapping or unlawful restraint
- was not a sex offense
- was not an assault, disorderly conduct, or similar offense
- was not public indecency
- was not organized crime
- The defendant has never been previously convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for another offense besides a traffic offense punishable by fine only
If a defendant does not qualify for automatic nondisclosure, he or she may still petition the court for a nondisclosure of most offenses (not those involving family violence) with or without the assistance of an attorney if the appropriate requirements are met. See Part IV of this post.
Timing of Automatic Nondisclosure
The nondisclosure is ordered immediately after the successful completion of a deferred adjudication term that was 180 days or longer. If the term of deferred adjudication was shorter than 180 days, the court shall enter a nondisclosure “as soon as practicable” on or after 180 days from the day the defendant was placed on deferred adjudication.