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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17396
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was arrested for a felony of possession of stolen property

Customer Question

I was arrested for a felony of possession of stolen property when I was 18 years old. The judge lowered the case to a misdemeanor under the circumstance that I pleaded no contest. Is it possible to get this removed from my background?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

I'm sorry but no. Texas will not expunge a conviction, misdemeanor or felony unless it is first pardoned by the governor. The only exception is if you pled no contest as part of a deferred adjudication and your conviction was dismissed after you successfully completed your probation requirements. That would be expungeable. You can see the Texas Expungement Law here.

Getting a pardon is very difficult, but if you can get one, you could then apply for the expungement and get the misdemeanor off of your record. There are lawyers who specialize in pardons and expungments, but no lawyer is required, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by filling out the application.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles screens applicants for the governor. I have linked you to their site where you can find more information and downloadable forms.

Good luck!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Actually, this case took place in FL. I have been currently living in TX for the past 5 years. Does this make any difference?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hi Salman,

Thanks for clarifying that. Every state's expungement's law is a little bit different, and it's only the state where the crime was prosecuted where the matter could be expunged, if at all.

So you need to look at Florida law. In this regard, unfortunately, it will be no friendlier to you than Texas's. Florida will only allow you to clear your record if it is your first and only offense AND it didn't result in a conviction or was an adjudication withheld. I'm quoting from the statute below:

(1) Petition to expunge a criminal history record.__Each petition to a court to expunge a criminal history record is complete only when accompanied by:

(a) A certificate of eligibility for expunction issued by the department pursuant to subsection (2).

(b) The petitioner's sworn statement attesting that the petitioner:

1. Has never, prior to the date on which the petition is filed, been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation or adjudicated delinquent for committing a felony or a misdemeanor specified in s. 943.051(3)(b).

2. Has not been adjudicated guilty of, or adjudicated delinquent for committing, any of the acts stemming from the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition pertains.

3. Has never secured a prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record under this section, former s. 893.14, former s. 901.33, or former s. 943.058, or from any jurisdiction outside the state.

4. Is eligible for such an expunction to the best of his or her knowledge or belief and does not have any other petition to expunge or any petition to seal pending before any court.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the only difference between a no contest plea and a plea of guilty is that the no contest plea cannot be used against you in civil court as an admission. For any and every other purpose, they are identical.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Let me tell you why I'm interested in clearing my record, maybe you could give me some advice which could help. I will be applying for a job as an engineer in the near future, and I didn't want my record to get in the way of getting a job. I understand that most professional jobs require a thorough background check, is there a way to get around the background check? I understand that the offense will remain, however, could it be artificially removed from public background records?
If not, would you recommend an appeal for my case?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hi Salman,

While I certainly understand your concern, Florida does not allow a conviction to be sealed either. You can see the law with regard to that here.

About the only thing you could try -- and frankly it would be a longer than long shot -- would be to hire a lawyer to bring the case before the judge and to petition the court to dismiss your old offense in the interest of justice. Judges have the power to do things that the law would not normally allow them to do, in order to prevent an injustice. This power under equity is used very sparingly. Some judges will not even entertain the possibility of such a petition.

This would require a compelling interest that would be greater than the state's interest in making its convictions stick. It would be best framed drafted and argued by a lawyer. You'd have to talk to a local criminal lawyer and see whether this solution would be viable enough to be worth the expense of it. But if you obtained such as dismissal, then your record would show as dismissed, and you may even qualify for the dismissal or sealing.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I understand and appreciate all of your honest advice! Just one more thing, if this doesn't work, should I appeal the case itself? I was arrested due to my confession(the detective told me if I didn't confess, he would charge me with several other offenses that I didn't commit). being young and dumb, I fell for it, and following my confession he arrested me. I purchased some car parts that I didn't know were stolen until afterwards(honestly).
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

Unfortunately, if this happened when you were 18 and you are now an adult, you are past the point where you can appeal your conviction on most grounds. A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the sentence if you want to preserve your right to appeal. While there are a few reasons for which you could still appeal, most of them would be technical in nature and would not apply (the law you were convicted of is now unconstitutional. The sentence was an illegal sentence. The wrong court took jurisdiction over the offense. These are some of the technical reasons that would allow for a late appeal. And they are all very rare). The only other one is that you came into possession of newly discovered evidence which could not have been known at the time of your conviction but which, had everyone known of this, would have resulted in a dismissal or an acquittal. I don't think you have that kind of evidence either.

The fact that you were coerced would have done for a timely appeal, but too much time has elapsed for you to be able to assert that claim now.

I am sorry for not having better news for you.
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 17396
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Zoey_ JD and 3 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I highly appreciate all of your advice, thank you.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Thank you! I'm only sorry I couldn't give you better news.

Good luck with your job hunting!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. Take care.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
You too!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi again. So I was looking up my court case and the status read "disposed-probation", and I googled this and found out that in this case an agreement was met and after completing the probation the case is usually dismissed. The reason why it still shows up in my record is that I was finger printed and arrested. Is this true?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hi Salman,

You're not going to know what the court did by Googling what generally happens.

If your case was dismissed after probation, your status should read "dismissed." It should not show as a conviction unless you were convicted. There is a danger involved in relying on web information for something like this in that it's unofficial and may not even be up-to-date. The best way for you to be 100% sure whether your conviction was dismissed would be to get yourself printed and see what it shows on your actual criminal history. That way you will get to see exactly what an employer ordering your background check would see.

You can do that via the state of Florida or through the FBI. You could also call the clerk of the court to pull up your history and tell you whether your case was dismissed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I obtained my case information through the state website so I believe it is accurate. I guess my question would be that if I were convicted, would it show convicted under case status?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
No. If it were dismissed it would say 'dismissed'. It would not show your status was probation.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
thanks once again
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
sorry to keep bugging you but here is some more info, maybe you can help me a little better now. I just pulled up my complete case on the state website and my charges read as follow.

Plea
Written Plea Not Guilty-Jury


Amended Plea (Reason: Change of Plea)
Change of Plea-Nolo Contendere


Disposition
Convicted by Plea - Adjudication Withheld


Sentence (Judicial Officer(s): Rebollo - FG, Carlos S)







Comment (Docketrac Sentence Record Note: Mat Transfer Probation To Texas)







Comment (Total Amount Imposed $233.00)







State Probation (0 Yr 6 Mo 0 Days , Start Date: 09/22/2006, End Date: 03/22/2007)








Provisions (







Special ProvisionsDefendant Sentenced Under Sentencing Guidelines)




Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

Yes, your matter was dismisssed if your adjudication was withheld. It means you do not have a conviction. That would mean you can get it expunged in Florida. You can find out more about that here. It looks more complex than most and you might want to get a lawyer to do that for you.

Here is the problem, however. It also says your probation was transferred to Texas. That means on a 50-state check your Texas probation may turn up. You'd need a Texas lawyer to sort all of that out, if possible, since your conviction in Florida was dismissed, but your obligation transferred to another state and could have made its records.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I was never on probation in Texas tho, I completed my probation 6 months prior to moving to Texas. I never reported to any probation officer in TX.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Then there shouldn't be a problem.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you soo much. Have a great evening!!
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
You too!

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Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.