In addition to representing clients against active criminal cases, I also help clients in other areas related to their present or past (or even future) cases. Some services I offer along these lines are filing Grand Jury packets, Petitions of Expunction, Petitions for Non-Disclosure (to "seal" a criminal record), Motions for Early Release from Probation, Petitions for Occupational Driver's Licenses, Petitions for Rescission of Driver's License Suspension, and attending ALR hearings.
When a person is arrested and charged with a felony, his case must be presented to a Grand Jury before it can move forward to a trial court. When the District Attorney's office presents its case, it asks the Grand Jury to find that there is sufficient probable cause to believe the Defendant committed the alleged offense. If the Grand Jury finds that the allegation is "True," the case is assigned to a court and it is up to a prosecutor and a defense attorney to work the case. However, the Grand Jury can also issue a finding of "Not True," which means the Defendant has not been indicted and the case is over. (The arresting agency does have a statutory period that varies by offense, during which it can refile a case if it so chooses. A District Attorney's office will only accept such a refiling if new information has been obtained.) In a third alternative, the Grand Jury can reject the case as a felony and return it as a misdemeanor.
Grand Juries issue indictments in the vast majority of cases presented to them. The best chance a Defendant has of a finding of "Not True" is a Grand Jury Packet. This packet can be as simple as a letter explaining why the law, as it applies to the facts of the case, requires a finding of no probable cause. Or a Grand Jury Packet can be as involved as sworn witness statements, medical records, photographs, and other evidence that corroborate the Defendant's innocence. A Grand Jury Packet is a powerful tool because, when successful, it is the end of the case—the risk of a felony conviction is completely removed. I only recommend Grand Jury Packets in cases where there is a realistic argument that probable cause does not exist; and when I present these packets, I have a high rate of success for my clients.
Remember that a Grand Jury Packet can only be done if you have not yet been indicted. This is just another reason it is important to hire an attorney as soon as you have been charged with a criminal case.
An expunction is like a magic eraser that, in the end, means that your arrest and prosecution never occurred. In fact, when an expunction is granted, you can legally say that you were never charged with a criminal case. When a judge signs an expunction order, certified copies are delivered to all of the relevant agencies, such as the police department that arrested you, the sheriff's department that detained you, and the district attorney's office that prosecuted you. This order from the judge requires the agencies to physically destroy all documents and evidence relating to your criminal case as well as remove any evidence of the case from their computer systems. From that point forward, you no longer have a criminal record. Unfortunately, expunctions are not available in all situations. Texas law limits the privilege of expunctions to certain situations, such as when a person is found not guilty at trial, when a person receives a pardon, when a person is arrested but the arresting agency never files the case, or when a person's arrest was based on false information.
Even when an expunction is not an option, a Petition for Non-Disclosure often is. Although a non-disclosure order does not require the agencies involved to destroy the records related to a person's case, it does require the agencies to seal those records. Once the records are sealed, only government agencies and private agencies with special security clearance will be able to view them. This means that, when you apply for an apartment or a job, these records will not be seen unless the agency has special clearance to view such records. Petitions for Non-Disclosure are most often used in situations where a person has had her case dismissed after successfully completing a deferred probation.
A criminal record can make it difficult to do many things necessary to everyday life, like getting a job (especially if the charge was theft) or rent an apartment (especially if the charge was assault). If either of these options is available to you at the end of your case, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of them.
In several areas of this website, I have discussed the importance of an ALR hearing. Again most attorneys handle their own ALR hearings, but some of those who are not familiar with how to conduct an ALR hearing send their DWI and DUI clients to me. If your attorney does not handle ALRs—or foolishly tells you that you don't need one—please feel free to call me and I would be happy to handle it for you. ALR hearings are the first, and often the most valuable, tool in your DWI or DUI defense.
Finally, many attorneys don't realize that you can have your ALR suspension rescinded when you win your DWI or DUI case. There is an important reason to go back and have the suspension rescinded even if the suspension ended a year ago. Here's an example of how important this is: If you are found Not Guilty at your DWI or DUI trial and have the offense expunged from your criminal record, no one will know that the offense ever occurred. Theoretically, not even law enforcement will know. However, a smart cop will see the ALR activity on your driving record and know that there must have been a DWI or DUI case that went along with it. This will put you at much higher risk for another DWI investigation.
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