How Does a Non-Disclosure Order Work?
- May 20, 2015
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on How Does a Non-Disclosure Order Work?
In Texas, it is possible for people who have been convicted of criminal offenses to conceal their convictions from employers and others who conduct background checks. In effect, an order of non-disclosure prevents court officials from exposing a person’s criminal convictions to people performing background checks.
An order of non-disclosure can have several benefits for people convicted of crimes. It may allow people in this situation to obtain employment that they would otherwise not be able to obtain. It may also allow people to avoid being judged for their past actions because they do not have to disclose any criminal convictions that occurred in their past.
Orders of Non-Disclosure vs. Expungement
In Texas, there is another court order that is similar to an order of non-disclosure called expungement. Although these two orders are similar, they have one important distinction. While an order of non-disclosure effectively seals a person’s criminal record, an order of expunction actually erases a criminal charge from a defendant’s record.
This is an important distinction because an expunged criminal charge cannot be discovered by anyone, while a sealed charge from a non-disclosure order can be accessed under certain circumstances.
Requirements for an Order of Non-Disclosure
There are several requirements that a defendant must meet in order to be eligible for a non-disclosure order. Not all defendants may meet these requirements and some criminal offenses may automatically prevent defendants from obtaining one of these orders.
The requirements for an order of non-disclosure include:
- A sentence of deferred adjudication probation
- Agreement from the court
Deferred adjudication probation occurs when a defendant is given a chance to prove that they have learned from their mistakes. In these circumstances, a judge may order a sentence to be postponed, or deferred, until a defendant has a chance to serve a period of court supervision. During this time, the defendant may be required to report to a supervision officer, attend classes, perform community service and submit to drug tests. If the defendant successfully completes this supervision period, they may be eligible for an order of non-disclosure.
However, even if an order of non-disclosure is granted, some people may still be able to find out a defendant’s criminal history.
Who Can Access A Sealed Criminal Record?
A non-disclosure order effectively “seals”, or obscures from public view, a defendant’s criminal record. However, it is important to note that the criminal charges related to a non-disclosure order are not erased, they are simply hidden from certain people. Typically, these charges are hidden from potential employers who may be performing a background check.
In some cases, these charges may still be accessed by certain parties even though they have been sealed by the court. These parties can include:
- School systems
- Government agencies
- Financial institutions
In some cases, these agencies may be able to find out that a person has received an order of non-disclosure for a past criminal offense. However, these agencies may look more favorably on a person who received a non-disclosure order than a person who received a standard criminal sentence.
Non-Disclosure Order Waiting Periods
If a person is not granted an opportunity to receive deferred adjudication at their initial sentencing, they may be eligible to request a a non-disclosure order after a certain period of time has passed. This may only apply to certain offenses in Texas. For example, a person convicted of harassment or disorderly conduct must wait two years after a conviction to petition for an order of non-disclosure.
However, a person convicted of sexual assault, stalking or other violent offenses may never be eligible for an order of non-disclosure.
Obtaining an Order of Non-Disclosure
An attorney may be able to help a defendant obtain an order of non-disclosure. For example, an attorney may be able to point out to the court that a defendant has no previous criminal record or that the offense was a minor one.
If this is successful, the court may agree to allow the defendant to receive a sentence of deferred adjudication and to receive an order of non-disclosure upon successful completion of the supervisory period.