Over the years, I have seen good people branded in some way with a criminal record which became an obstacle in their lives. Additionally, I have seen others who were not arrested, or otherwise branded, for violating one of our many laws, go through life and pursued their goals without a criminal record which would have closed the door on their dreams. One friend in particular who bragged about stealing fishing lures went on to become a Texas Highway Patrolman and has since retired. Many, including me, have crossed the legal lines, especially when younger and usually at a time when we did not yet have a dream or goal in life.
Unfortunately, few leaders in our legislature have not really been concerned that the decision making part of our brain does not fully develop until our mid-twenties at best. As a freshman in college, I can remember thinking it was a good idea to take a few street signs for the dorm. I was arrested along with two females, but luckily, the criminal case was never filed and the arrest record was expunged. . Fortunately, I obtained a good lawyer and at that time, Lubbock had a District Attorney who could see the situation for the stupid decision it was. What is a good lawyer? It is one that cares about their clients. It is one that has vast experience in the courtroom and continually seeks to become better at his craft.
If I had not followed up with an expunction, I would have a record of being arrested for theft. I was a young immature kid, not a thief. An expunction is a vehicle to have your arrest and/or criminal case erased. I have talked with many clients who assumed they had no record because their case was dismissed, the case was never filed, or they received Deferred Adjudication. In many cases, they were given bad advice or simply did not know how those records might affect their lives until it was too late or until it did.
Criminal arrest records and convictions can and have prevented people from renting apartments, getting jobs, and/or pursuing careers simply because of the record. One particular person that comes to mind is a young man who had a strong passion to be a fireman, but a single DWI conviction in his youth has prevented him from realizing his dream. Until this world changes their black and white attitude, he will have to pursue a different path in life.
Expunction and Non-Disclosure are two ways to potentially clean up a criminal record. An expunction is the best choice if eligible, since you can legally deny the incident occurred in most cases. In order to have a record expunged, you either have to be acquitted of the charge, the case dismissed, or the case not be filed. Non-Disclosures are limited in their ability to seal a criminal record, but in my opinion, it is better than nothing. After being released from a Deferred Adjudication type probation, it is possible in most cases to have the records sealed to the general public. It does not apply to some political offenses like assaults involving family violence or DWI. (Political offenses is another story for another time) Even if sealed through Non-Disclosure, many will be able to see the record. (e.g., jobs requiring a state license, etc.).
If you or someone you know are arrested or the possibility exists, it is extremely important to talk with a good lawyer as soon as you can to have the best chance to minimize or avoid a criminal record. With the internet, and mug shot type websites that hold people’s “book-in” photo in exchange for ransom, it may be impossible to totally clean up criminal records, but at Vitz Law we feel it is important to keep your criminal record as clean as you can, and if possible, assist in overriding the lack of prefrontal lobe development involving making good decisions.
Lawyers, like therapists and dentists, are not equal. At age 18, a lawyer was a lawyer in my mind. I simply got lucky in Lubbock and hired a good lawyer. When dealing with such a critical and potentially life changing event such as an arrest, however, it is best not to rely on getting lucky with that decision.