Sealing Texas Criminal Records With a Nondisclosure

What Does my Record Consist of?

When a person is arrested in Texas for a Class B offense or greater, a formal criminal record is generated with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Soon after the arrest, the Department will assign a tracking number to your case and update it with events that occur until the case is disposed of. Case events which will be noted in every case include:

  • The decision of the prosecutor to accept, reject, change, or add to the charge for trial
  • The disposition of the case (convicted, acquitted, dismissed, deferred adjudication)
  • The sentencing information

This information is also shared with the FBI and tracked simultaneously in a nationwide database.

Who Can See my Record?

The general public is not permitted to just log in to the database and obtain every detail about a person’s criminal history. However, Section 411.135 of the Government Code permits the general public to request record information as it relates to convictions, grants of deferred adjudication, and arrests. This statute is the mechanism by which criminal record companies are able to purchase criminal records and make them available on internet search engines or sell subscriptions to potential employers or even apartment leasing agencies.

Do Class C Misdemeanors Appear on my Record?

Because Class C Misdemeanors are not initiated by an arrest, there is no requirement for Class C offenses to be included in a person’s criminal record. This does not mean that they cannot or will not become part of a criminal record. Sometimes, a municipal court or justice of the peace court will have a policy of reporting offenses to the Department of Public Safety despite not being required to do so. The policy of the Department is to incorporate any such reported offense into an individual’s criminal record.

What Other Ways Can Someone Search my Record?

In addition to obtaining records through criminal record companies, a person’s criminal record can be physically found at the court clerk’s office of the city or county where the case was pending. If the clerk maintains an online database of cases, criminal history will be also be available to any person who searches that particular court’s records. The Collin County Court Clerk maintains an online database that may be searched here.

How can a Nondisclosure Keep an Offense Off my Record?

A nondisclosure is essentially the same thing as a sealed record. What this means is that the record will still exist but the general public will not have access to it. Generally speaking, only government entities will know about nondisclosed cases. Neither the Department of Public Safety, nor the clerk of the applicable courthouse can report the existence of a nondisclosed offense to private citizens or businesses.

A nondisclosure is only available in cases that were disposed of by deferred adjudication. Upon successfully completing the probation period associated with deferred adjudication, and observing any applicable waiting period, a person may file a civil pleading to have the offense nondisclosed. The following lists the applicable waiting periods tacked on to the end of probation before a person can file a petition for nondisclosure:

  • No waiting period: most misdemeanor offenses
  • 2-year waiting period: a limited list of misdemeanors offenses which includes: Assault, Unlawful Restraint, Public Lewdness, Indecent Exposure, Terroristic Threat, Disorderly Conduct, Unlawful Carrying of a Firearm, certain offenses against the family, and certain other offenses relating to Disorderly Conduct.
  • 5-year waiting period: felony offenses

If an individual commits a new offense, other than a Class C traffic violation, during the applicable waiting period, he or she will no longer be eligible to file for a nondisclosure.

What offenses are not eligible for nondisclosure?
  • Offenses requiring registration as a sex offender
  • Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Injury to Child, Elderly, or Disabled
  • Abandoning or Endangering a Child
  • Violation of court orders or bond conditions in family violence cases
  • Any offense involving family violence

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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