Deferred Reform- A Real Second Chance
Every year thousands of Texans plead guilty for deferred adjudication(DA) probation. A common fallacy among defendants, judges, prosecutors, and even some defense lawyers is that DA cases “won’t be on your record”, i.e. they can be expunged. Not true. In Texas, deferred cases can not be expunged. You can file a motion for non disclosure, but that is a marginal remedy at best. In most cases, a deferred plea will follow you forever.
A related misnomer is that a deferred case won’t have an impact on your future. After all, the nomenclature of deferred cases can propagate misguided optimism. The “no finding of guilt”, “no final conviction”, “case will be dismissed” language leads most to believe that after probation they can move on with their lives.
Nary a week goes by without an email from someone who can’t get a job, or a professional license, because of an old deferred case. Thousands of former defendants who dutifully fulfill their obligations and repay their “debt to society” are perpetually shackled.
Two bills, SB2075 and HB 2213 look to remedy this policy mistake.
HB 2213 and SB 2075 would
– allow for expunctions of deferred cases for defendants who complete probation and stay out of trouble
– forbid the government from denying licenses or permits to successful deferred probationers
DA defendants are often the most deserving of a second chance. Defendants with no criminal history and/or young adults facing drug charges routinely plead for DA. Finally, the State will often offer DA for serious charges when their case is weak, increasing the likelihood that an innocent defendant will take DA probation. If rehabilitation is still any part of our justice system then we should reward those who are rehabilitated.