Criminal Defense, DWI & Expungements
Criminal Defense, DWI & Expungements
Indicted by the Feds?
Federal Criminal Defense – FBI, DEA, or ICE out to get you?
Federal Crimes are Different from State Crimes
What’s the difference between federal criminal defense and state criminal defense? Lots. And guess what: the feds, as a different “sovereign” than a state can charge you AGAIN for criminal conduct you have already been tried for in state court. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that such double prosecution is NOT a double jeopardy violation.
What types of crimes are prosecuted in federal court? Any crime with an interstate commerce component such as firearms, drugs, mail fraud or theft, federal government benefit fraud, bank robbery, bank fraud, immigration offenses, alien smuggling, smuggling, money laundering, securities fraud, bribery of public officials counterfeiting, computer related crimes, child pornography, extortionate extensions of credit, federal tax crimes, forgery, arson, obstruction of justice, conspiracies and many, many more.
So if you have been charged and convicted in state court of delivery of, say, methamphetamine, you could be recharged and convicted again in federal court with additional penalties.
If you are charged in state court with a crime that has the threat of federal involvement, it is in YOUR best interest to seek the counsel of an attorney who understands both the state and federal processes. Remember, dealing with the state is does not stop the federal government from charging you again, or vice versa
My Lawyer Lost my Criminal Case and I Got Convicted — Now What?
Criminal Appeals, Post-Conviction Relief, and Habeas Corpus
Overturning a conviction is not an easy task. Before you can catch your breath after hearing the awful word “Guilty” and reassess, deadlines are running, and running FAST. In federal court, you must file any post trial motions within 7 days after the verdict, in Louisiana State courts, prior to sentencing, unless based on “newly discovered evidence” which is governed by different deadlines and rules. If you wish to appeal, you must file your notice of appeal within 10 days of the entry of the judgment of conviction (entered directly after your sentencing) in Federal court, or within 30 days of rendition of judgment in Louisiana State court. FAILURE TO TIMELY FILE YOUR NOTICE WILL PRECLUDE FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF YOUR CASE.
Not every error means that the verdict will be overturned. Were the errors preserved, in other words, did your attorney object and make a record at the appropriate times? Did your attorney properly investigate your case? Did you tell your attorney everything she needed to know to defend you vigorously? Did the judge make an error of law in his rulings or in the jury instructions? Did the prosecutor hide evidence that would have helped you?
Most criminal appeals result in an AFFIRMANCE of the verdict. This means the appellate courts have not found an error that would justify overturning the verdict. If that happens your only recourse is post conviction review. A post conviction case is considered a collateral attack on the conviction. The Constitution does not require appointment of counsel for collateral attacks. Success at the post conviction stage is even less likely than at the appellate stage.
Criminal trials, appeals, and post conviction cases are very serious matters. You must be sure to engage competent counsel with experience in criminal matters. Federal criminal procedure is very different from state court criminal procedure. Be sure the attorney you engage has experience in the charging jurisdiction.
Expungements – Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Expungement?
Generally speaking, under Louisiana law, an expungement is a procedure by which a court orders the state to make certain arrest or conviction records non-public. That is, most private individuals will not be able to see the records during a background check. The records are still available to law enforcement for legitimate purposes. Certain entities are also able to have the records accessed — for example, nursing boards, medical boards, and the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Committee on Bar Admissions.
Under what circumstances am I eligible for an expungement?
With the exception of certain provisions in plea agreements and time periods after conviction, generally an expungement is for those who have not been convicted of the crime for which they were arrested — either by winning at trial or by the prosecutor’s dismissal of the charges (sometimes even after a plea of guilty). There are some situations in which a charge is eligible to be expunged after a long period of time, despite the fact that the person was convicted.
I pled guilty. Can I still get my record cleaned up?
Usually there are very few situations in which a straight guilty plea can be expunged, especially if the charge is a felony. If the sentence was deferred and the prosecution dismissed after succession completion of probation, then you are usually eligible to ask the court to enter an order to expunge your criminal records. For some crimes, the mere passage of time after a conviction will make one eligible to approach the court for an expungement. Some crimes cannot be expunged.
I got a first offender pardon. Can I get an expungement?
Generally speaking, a first offender pardon does not qualify you for an expungement Louisiana charges.
How much does it cost to get an expungement?
Unfortunately, expungements can be expensive, due in large part to the court costs charged by the various governmental agencies involved. In most expungements, if the judge orders the records expunged, fees of $50 each must be paid to the prosecutor’s office and the local sheriff’s office, and $250 must be paid to the state. Also, some clerk’s offices charge up to $200 or more just for the filing fee. Thus, on a typical expungement, the court costs alone (not counting legal fees) can total $600. This is an extremely unfair situation. There are limited exceptions in the law to reduce the court costs, but they are difficult and require cooperation of the prosecutor.
How long do expungements of Louisiana charges typically take?
For misdemeanor cases, the attorney’s preparation of the paperwork to file at the court house can usually be drafted in a relatively short time, assuming the paperwork is in order. However, once it hits the court house, the time for resolution varies from locale to locale. The papers are served on various agencies, and they have from 60 days to respond (the State of Louisiana has 120 days to respond until August 2015.) If there is an opposition filed, then there must be a hearing. If the agency either responds with no opposition or otherwise does not respond, then the judge may enter an order of expungement, which is again served on the various agencies.
I pled guilty, but it was a long time ago. Can I get my record cleaned up?
A person may request expungement of most misdemeanors after 5 years have elapsed from the date of the successful completion of any sentence, deferred adjudication or period of probation or parole. However, an expungement can only happen once with respect to any person within a 5 year period, unless the charge is a DWI, and then it is once in 10 years. Some felonies may be expunged after a period of 10 years. There are a few exceptions, so check with a Louisiana expungement lawyer.
Can I get my felony records expunged?
Felony records are more difficult to get expunged than misdemeanor offenses. A dismissal through a deferred sentence or the passage of time may qualify you for an expungement. Consult a Louisiana expungement attorney to discuss the details of the felony charges you would like expunged.
I got an "894" (or an "893") during my plea. Why is my arrest still showing up?
An 894 (or 893) sentence does not erase the arrest records from the state computers. There must be a separate Order of Dismissal so that the 894 or 893 goes into effect. The 894/893 order of dismissal, though it purports to dismiss the prosecution and act as an acquittal of the charges, does not expunge the charges or erase anything on the state computers. It merely sets up ones eligibility to request that the records be expunged. One still must file for an expungement. If the court erred in granting the 894 or 893 (for example it was for an ineligible charge), then the state of Louisiana may still refuse to expunge the charges.
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