The Texas legislature has passed a new law which will allow thousands of Texans to obtain an order of non-disclosure for certain convictions for driving while intoxicated (“DWI”). Many people find it difficult to move forward following criminal convictions, knowing that information related to that mistake is a matter of public record. Criminal convictions often show up on background searches for things like job applications, which has a negative impact beyond a person’s sentence. Texas has recently created a path toward an order which would keep certain cases from being disclosed. This is an exciting development for those with a single mistake which has created a criminal record.
The new law is currently in effect and is retroactive, meaning that it applies to cases which occurred prior to its enactment. If you have questions regarding this new law and your potential eligibility, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney.
Eligibility of Non-Disclosure
A conviction for DWI may be eligible for non-disclosure if a person was placed on community supervision (often referred to as probation) following the conviction of a Class B misdemeanor DWI. Often, this means a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was below .15. A person must successfully complete community supervision, including payment of all fees and completion of all terms of community supervision.
Maybe most importantly, the case for which a person is attempting to obtain an order of non-disclosure must be the only criminal conviction in a person’s history, including deferred adjudication. Also, the DWI cannot have resulted in an accident involving another person.
Finally, there is a period of time which must pass before a person is eligible to seek an order of non-disclosure. The person must wait two full years after the date a person successfully completes community supervision, so long as the person complied with an order requiring the use of an ignition interlock device for six months as a term of community supervision. If the person was not required to use an ignition interlock device, that person must wait five full years after the successful completion of community supervision.
Best Interest of Justice
If you have successfully completed community supervision and the waiting period for a case that would otherwise be eligible, will you receive an order of non-disclosure now that you meet the requirements? The answer is maybe. To be successful, a judge must find that issuing an order of non-disclosure is in the best interest of justice. This creates discretion whereby a judge may choose whether to grant the order of non-disclosure even if a person is otherwise eligible. Because of this, it is important that a person who is attempting to obtain an order of non-disclosure contact an experienced criminal attorney. While there is no guarantee of ultimate success, an attorney will provide the best chance at a successful outcome.
The firm of Witt, McGregor & Bourland, PLLC represents clients throughout Central Texas. They offer a free initial consultation to determine eligibility and to give an overview of the non-disclosure process.