Another avenue to a fresh start after deferred adjudication

by Royce West Texas Senate It was 2003, now 11 years and five legislative sessions removed since the passage of the first legislation that allows the records of a person who has successfully completed deferred adjudication in Texas to be sealed from public disclosure !nd while the records of all offenses where deferred was offered and completed are not eligible to be sealed, to date, more than 33,"20 petitioners have ta#en advantage of this opportunity for a fresh start $till, there remains much more to be done to improve state laws that regulate access to criminal history records %eferred adjudication is a judicial option available under Texas law to defendants, prosecutors and the courts in criminal cases It is a form of community supervision & more commonly called probation ' that when successfully completed, results in the charges related to the offense being officially dismissed (owever unli#e with regular probation, the defendant does not receive a conviction In Texas, a conviction is most li#ely a permanent entry on a person)s criminal history record There are few to no options at that point to wipe the slate clean !s many who have applied for a job or filled out an application for an apartment have discovered, although there is no conviction, under deferred, the records of the offense remain in the public domain !nd even though the charges have been dismissed, certain state occupational licenses can be denied as well as opportunities for employment The order of nondisclosure was designed to ta#e some of the sting out of a criminal case disposition and offer a fresh start for those who wish to put their mista#es behind them in pursuit of more productive lifestyles %uring the 2013 legislative session we were able to pass into law $*10+, a bill that closes a loophole in the dissemination of criminal history records in cases where an order of nondisclosure has been issued The loophole would allow the notification process

performed by the Texas %epartment of ,ublic $afety when an order of nondisclosure has been issued to be bypassed by allowing criminal history records to be purchased directly from the courts -ithout that notice, a record that has been sealed through an order of nondisclosure remains accessible to the public In the final wee#s of the legislative session, we were able to amend the language of a separate bill onto $*10+ The new language amended from $*.++ created an online petition that will allow a person to file for an order of nondisclosure without hiring an attorney /et that sin# in $ince 2002, caller after frustrated caller have contacted my office complaining they were told that if they accepted deferred adjudication, the charges would not appear on their record It was the inspiration for $*10++ that first created the order of nondisclosure The next complaint from many callers is that, 1I don)t have a job, so I can)t afford an attorney ) $*10+ goes a long way in lowering the financial barriers to a chance for a new start It re2uires only payment of court costs and a 32" fee Those who want to access the online petition for an order of nondisclosure can search the website of the Texas 4ffice of 5ourt !dministration 645!7 4n the 45!)s home page find Publications, forms and online information 5lic# on model forms 8rom there, you will find information that explains eligibility for an order of nondisclosure along with a model petition and instructions on completing the petition The form can be filed online or downloaded and sent by mail to the district cler# of the county where the offense was adjudicated There is also contact information for the 4ffice of 5ourt !dministration 9ou, the citi:ens of Texas and my constituents identified a problem It was through your input that I)ve attempted to provide a solution that will open doors and help those who want help in finding their way bac# to self&sufficiency and productive lives !nd by the way, did you #now that persons who have successfully completed deferred adjudication are also now eligible to receive a pardon; For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass at 214-467-0123.

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