Herreth Law
Serving Weatherford, Fort Worth And Beyond
817-502-2715

Can I Really Get a Second Chance?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for civil law.jpegLiving life in Parker County is already a challenge. If you have a criminal conviction on your record, life becomes even more difficult. Even a small black smudge on your record makes it difficult to get a good job, find a nice place to live, or pursue certain professional opportunities.

Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure gives defendants several options in these situations. If the judge discharged the defendant early due to good conduct, there are even more options available.

A Weatherford criminal defense attorney can sit down with you, review your case, and suggest a course of action. Many times, the results will exceed your expectations.

Expungement

In recent years, many states have significantly expanded their expungement laws, especially with regard to drug crimes and certain other offenses. Unfortunately, although legislators have considered several such bills in recent years, none of them passed.

Nevertheless, it is possible to completely erase all judicial and law enforcement records in certain situations. Some examples include:

  • Most Juvenile Offenses: Contrary to popular myth, the judge does not automatically expunge juvenile records when the offender turns 18. However, most judges will grant expungement petitions, provided that the defendant meets the minimum qualifications.

  • Pretrial Dismissal: Prosecutors must dismiss the case because of a lack of probable cause. If prosecutors dismiss the case because they cannot find a key witness or the defendant completes a pretrial diversion program, the judge will probably not expunge the records.

  • Not-Guilty Verdict: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Note that moral guilt or innocence is irrelevant. Legal guilt or innocence (i.e. did the state prove the case or not) is all that matters.

  • Executive Pardon: Such outcomes occur more often than many people think. If the defendant asks for a pardon, and the request jives with the governor's political agenda, the governor usually grants the request.

Generally, if the probation officer agrees to the petition, the judge almost always grants it. That's why good conduct is so important.

Nondisclosure Order

If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty, expungement is not an option. However, a non disclosure order may be available. This order basically makes the records invisible for most purposes. Only certain government agencies can view them.

If the defendant successfully completed deferred adjudication probation and at least five years have passed, a judge will probably sign a nondisclosure order. Lots of people ask about DWI nondisclosure orders. And yes, this relief may be available in these cases.

A second chance may be yours for the asking. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. After-hours visits are available.

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