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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23202
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I have a 25+ year old conviction for Theft by Check (under

Customer Question

I have a 25+ year old conviction for Theft by Check (under $20) in Bexar County, Texas. At the time I wanted the matter to be over, so with no legal advice to the contrary I simply plead guilty and paid a fine. Now, more than 2 decades later, I am nearing completion of my PhD and will be applying for jobs that will almost certainly require thorough background checks. I now live in Florida, where reporting agencies may report any convictions regardless of how old they are. I strongly feel that most any employer will generally pass over any candidate that discloses a past conviction, and a background check that uncovers the conviction will disqualify me (especially if I do not disclose it on the job application). I understand that convictions are not eligible to be expunged or sealed, but have read that a prosecutor may agree to expunge and/or seal any record. I have been told that it is the policy of the Bexar County DA's office to never agree to this except for special cases such as a wrongful conviction (which doesn't apply to me).My question(s): Is there any recourse available to me to remove this one conviction from my record? Is it worth writing the DA's office with such a request, citing lasting consequences that are disproportionate to the crime, or claiming it is otherwise in the best interest of society? Could there be a downside to that request? Any other outside-of-the-box solutions?
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.


Texas doesn't expunge convictions unless they are first pardoned by the governor. Applying for a pardon is free and can be done without a lawyer. Even though it is a longshot after 25 years without further contact with the law, you'd be a better candidate for a pardon than many. There's no harm in trying for one.

Writing a letter to the DA won't help you. The DA doesn't have the power to remove a conviction. However, a judge can.

Here, you'd have to retain a lawyer and have him reopen your old case with a petition to dismiss it in the interest of justice. Judges have the power to dismiss a case under their powers of equity, even if the law won't provide for the dismissal. They are very cautious and sparing in their use of this power, and some will refuse to entertain a petition on these grounds at all. But others will do it to prevent an injustice.

You would need to talk to a Texas lawyer about bringing the motion. He will have to draft it essentially showing why the law under which you were convicted should be ignored in your case. There would probably be opposition from the prosecutor. So you might want to get some free or low cost consultations to get a sense of how likely this is to work in your jurisdiction before you pay a couple of thousand dollars to a lawyer to try to get this done.

If you got a dismissal, then you would then be eligible to get your conviction expunged.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

Just checking in to see if you need more help or any clarification of my answer. If so, please reply here on this question thread.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Could preventing further punitive actions (such as being passed over for a job) be an example of what you mean by "to prevent an injustice"? Or is there another angle you would suggest exploring?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 months ago.

In this specific case, having to let a 25+-year-old conviction for a bad check under $20 keep you from career advancement for half a lifetime seems like more than enough punishment to me. Yes, I think that at this point in your life, you could characterize this as an injustice.

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