Articles Posted in Clean My Criminal Record

A Clean Slate Concept
Unbeknownst to many citizens, the Texas Legislature passed a law which allows more individuals to seal their record. Known as the Second Chance bill, SB 1902 took effect in September 2015 with tremendous opportunity for those charged with certain crimes and placed on deferred adjudication probation or regular probation.  If you have been charged with a non-violent misdemeanor such as theft, criminal trespass, possession of marijuana, or other drug-related offense, you may have the chance to clean your record from the public.

Your Right to Seal Records

Certain first-time offenders may have the right for an automatic sealing of their record from the public. To be eligible for this streamline process, you must have not been charged with a misdemeanor in Chapters 20, 21, 22, 25, 42, 43, 46, 71 Texas Penal Code or any charge associated with family violence. Also, you must have successfully completed deferred adjudication probation, qualified by the judge for automatic sealing, and not received any new charges.

iStock_000005542834XSmall (2).jpgIn Texas, state jail felons have the highest recidivism rates among all released inmates: over 33% of state jail felons will be convicted of a new crime after being released compared with 26% of regular prisoners. . Those familiar with Texas criminal law are well aware that our system is heavily based on the theory of negative incentives–commit a crime, and the government will punish you. The opposite idea, using positive incentives to reduce crime and reoffender rates, is seldom used, making a bill recently vetoed in Texas particularly important in the mission to reduce felon recidivism in Texas.

House Bill 1790 (HB 1790), introduced by Texas State Representative Oscar Longoria, proposed allowing state jail felons who have successfully completed probation to reduce the felony charge on their record to a Class A misdemeanor. In order to take advantage of HB 1790, the defendant would need to successfully meet all probation terms, and then petition the court to reduce their conviction seventy days prior to the end of their probation period. The defendant would be informed of the reduction incentive by their judge during sentencing. HB 1790 excluded state felons who have committed assaults, domestic violence or other “crimes against persons” from reducing their records under HB 1790.

Supporters had high hopes that HB 1790, which was backed by organizations such as the Texas Public Policy Foundation, would help alleviate overwhelming state jail populations, reduce the expense of prisoner healthcare and, most importantly, motivate defendants to successfully complete probation requirements–including paying full restitution to victims and their families. The incentive for felons: a life without a haunting felony record.