New Year, Same You

It’s the second day of a brand new decade, and – show of hands – how many of us have already broken our resolutions that began yesterday? Anyone? Just me? Ok, moving on.

January 1st is exciting. It’s a fresh start, a blank slate. Any one of us can use a do-over every now and then to wipe out old mistakes or erase bad experiences. In my line of work, some of my clients are good people who have made poor decisions (hindsight is 20/20, remember? There’s a pun in there somewhere), and their poor decisions resulted in criminal charges. Here are two possible ways to get a fresh start in that situation: diversion and expungement.

If facing criminal charges, a person may be able to accept a plea deal that includes diversion. Judicial diversion allows a person to enter his plea but begin probation rather than serving jail time; later, upon completing probation successfully, he can have that conviction erased. However, a diversion can only be used once; after a person “burns” his diversion by using it as part of a plea, he can’t use it again if he gets in trouble in the future. In this situation, you get one shot at a clean start. Also, keep in mind that not all crimes are diversion-eligible.

Another way to get a fresh start is by expungement. A person may be able to expunge an old criminal charge, wiping his past record clean. Expungement may be available if the criminal charge was dismissed or if the person was found not guilty. This may be very beneficial on the job hunt: many employers conduct background checks, and an old charge can pop up, leaving a bad taste in the potential employer’s mouth. But again, not every type of charge can be wiped away.

We all need a fresh start at times, be it a new year’s resolution or a clean record. How are you going to make 2020 your best year yet? Using that new gym membership? Cutting out carbs? Well not to be a Debbie Downer, but cleaning up your criminal record might be easier.  Call us and let’s find out.