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What you need is an expungement of your record.
How to obtain an expungement is a common question and one in which I have handled in my private practice many times over. It is always helpful to have an attorney, but an Motion for Expungement of Criminal Record can be done pro se (without an Attorney). Follow the steps below should you decide to proceed absent an attorney's guidance:
(1) First, note the expungement motion will need to be filed in the county court, at the clerk of courts office, in which your conviction resulted.
(2) Entitle the motion in bold and underline as I have done in the paragraph above.
(3) Include your name and the previous docket number (if you can remember it).
(4) In numbered paragraphs list the following information: (1) Your name and current address. (2) The crime(s) you were charged with in the previous offense. (3) The date of conviction. (4) The sentence handed down by the court; include the amount of restitution and any probationary time you served. (5) State the reason you are looking for an expungement and state the amount of years which have gone by without any contact with the criminal justice system. (6) State "Wherefore, the Defendant prays this Honorable Court grant Defendant's request for expungement of his/her criminal record."
(5) As stated above, this motion will need to be filed in the jurisdiction in which your conviction arose. The original will go to the clerk of courts. You should have a copy for yourself and the District Attorney's Office as well.
And that is it. The motion will then go in front of a judge who will determine whether or not an expungement is appropriate. The considerable amount of time that has gone by since your contact with the criminal justice system will certainly work in your favor.
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Pleas in absentia are widely used in TX. But you are correct, there is no explicit provision in the that allows it... In fact 27.14 specifically carves out absentia pleas for crimes that do not carry possible jail sentences.
See the law here: http://law.onecle.com/texas/criminal-procedure/27.14.00.html
In any event, they are used all the time in TX for A and B level misdemeanors... I don't see why you would have expected it to be dismissed. If you sign a plea, they have no reason to dismiss the case (you have already agreed you were guilty).
I suppose you could have challenged the conviction though a post conviction relief mechanism or through an appeal. But the time for all of that has passed. It is too late, but it does give you reasonable grounds to ask for a pardon and then expungement.
You do not meet the grounds for an expungement in Texas (it is called expunction in TX)...
See the Statute here: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CR/htm/CR.55.htm#55.01
You would need to seek a pardon first. You can fine fillable forms and applications for a pardon or clemency here: http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/bpp/forms/forms.html
Every thing you need is in that link.
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