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Early Discharge and Record Sealing: The Texas Post-Conviction Two Step

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for AdobeStock_80814322.jpegThe Texas Department of Criminal Justice supervises about a quarter of a million probationers a year. That figure does not include the high number of absconders (people who completely ignore probation orders) or who are later incarcerated for some reason.

Many of these people probably do not know how easy it is to get out from under the TDJA's thumb. Sometimes, it's also possible to remove your criminal history from public view. These moves could mean a lot to you, your family, and your future.

Ending Deferred Adjudication Probation Early

Parker County prosecutors routinely offer deferred adjudication probation, even if the defendant is charged with a violent felony, if the defendant has no criminal record.

In many ways deferred adjudication and regular probation are the same. In both cases, the defendant must abide by the terms and conditions of probation, such as reporting to the probation officer, performing community service, and paying fines. But there's one big difference. Deferred adjudication probation does not include a finding of guilt. If the defendant successfully completes the probation, or a judge discharges the defendant early, the judge dismisses the case.

Deferred adjudication also has some significant downsides. You should carefully go over all the pros and cons with your Weatherford criminal defense lawyer.

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes the judge to terminate probation early if the defendant:

  • Has completed at least a third of the term or two years of the term, whichever is less,

  • Is not delinquent on probation fees and has paid all fines and/or restitution, and

  • Has completed all classes, community service, and other requirements.

If the probation officer endorses the motion, the judge usually grants it without asking too many questions. If the probation officer does not endorse the motion, the defendant must usually present evidence of good conduct as well as character witnesses. If the defendant's probation record is completely spotless and the witnesses tell a compelling before-and-after story, that's even better.

Not all crimes are eligible for early discharge from probation, but most are. Additionally, some probationers may qualify for the new CCP 42A.701 clemency loophole. Judicial clemency is not quite like record sealing, but it is close.

Sealing Your Record

If you successfully complete deferred adjudication probation, record sealing is almost literally just a matter of time. Former probationers may seal their records after one year (for most misdemeanors) or five years (for most felonies). If the defendant runs afoul of the law during the waiting period, record sealing eligibility usually goes down the drain.

Sealed records are only visible to police, courts, and some government agencies. Employers and members of the general public cannot view these records. Any search query usually ends with a "No Records Found" result.

Even if you pleaded guilty and received probation, you may be able to quickly clean your criminal record. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Parker County and nearby jurisdictions.

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