In today’s world, background checks are increasingly common. Employers and landlords routinely perform background searches on potential employees and tenants. Oftentimes, having a criminal record, even for a non-violent offense like a DWI, can make it difficult to find a job or a place to live.
Texas has recognized the problem this kind of stigmatization represents. On June 16th, 2017, Texas Governor, Greg Abbot, signed House Bill 3016 into law. The new law gives people who have been convicted of DWI the possibility of sealing that conviction with an order of non-disclosure.
When people typically talk of “sealing” a record, what they’re actually referring to is what is known as a non-disclosure. An order of non-disclosure will effectively hide a criminal conviction from the eyes of the general public. More importantly, a background check will not show a criminal conviction that is subject to an order of non-disclosure. The conviction will, however, still be able to be seen by the police, state, and federal authorities.
Prior to the passage of House Bill 3016, under Texas law a person who had committed certain non-violent misdemeanors could be placed on deferred adjudication community supervision, or probation, before being found guilty. If that person successfully completed the probation, the judge would dismiss the case and enter an order of non-disclosure so that the matter was “sealed” from the eyes of the public. However, the law did not allow for the non-disclosure of a DWI under any circumstances.
House Bill 3016, changed all of this. Effective September 1, 2017, a person convicted of a DWI has the opportunity, under certain circumstances, to petition the court for an order of non-disclosure. The bill also changes some of the waiting periods associated with an order of non-disclosure.
Specifically, the bill allows a person who is ineligible for an automatic order of non-disclosure because a judge found that such an order was not in the best interest of justice to petition the court to enter an order of non-disclosure. In such a case, if the misdemeanor involved was punishable only by a fine, the person may petition the court immediately upon the completion of their sentence. If the misdemeanor involved more punishment than a fine, the person must wait two years from the date of completing their sentence to petition the court for an order.
In order to be eligible to petition the court for non-disclosure of a DWI, certain conditions must be met. These conditions include:
The following waiting periods apply to petitions for non-disclosure involving DWI related offenses:
It should be noted that an order of non-disclosure will be denied if the state presents evidence that establishes that the underlying DWI caused an accident that involved another person, including a passenger who was in the defendant’s vehicle.
A DWI is not subject to an order of non-disclosure if:
Some alcohol related misdemeanors cannot be subject to an order of non-disclosure. These crimes include:
Furthermore, other non-alcohol related criminal offenses are also not capable of being sealed with an order of non-disclosure. These offenses include:
House Bill 3016 can allow you to seal the record of your DWI so that it becomes easier to obtain employment, housing and move forward with your life. Contact RJ Harber for a free, confidential consultation at 214-389-1189, or online here.