Yes. It may depend on the jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions, Tarrant County particularly have diversion programs, the person may be put in some type of program that diverts them from court, it is called Diversion because it is not through the court. It does not result in any type of record and it puts them in the position later if they complete it, to be able to expunge it from their record. There are also some programs called Deferred Prosecution. In some jurisdictions, that can be run by the district attorney’s office, the person is placed on an informal probation outside of court which they call Deferred Prosecution, and if the person completes that program, then again, the case can be expunged from their record.
There are other similar type programs, sometimes called Direct Programs, or Direct Court Programs that can also result in cases being dismissed and a person being eligible to expunge the arrest from their record. And by expunge, I mean an expunction lawsuit which causes the records to be erased, destroyed, deleted from computers where there is no record of them being arrested, where it does not show up on a background check and which legally authorizes them to say it never happened. It gets them back to the point where they were before it happened. Gets them back to normal life so it does not affect their future and it does not result in a criminal record.
Surprisingly, very often. High percentages of cases are dismissed, or reduced to a lesser charge. It is amazing how many cases we get dismissed because quite often, there are some factual issues about whether the person is guilty or not. Often, there are legal issues about whether or not the police acted within the confines of the law. Often, they are minor first time offenses for which we can convince the prosecutor that with some positive steps the person has taken, maybe community service hours, some type of counseling program that the case ought to be dismissed. It is a very large percentage of the time that is very surprising, we can get the cases dismissed.
Oftentimes, we can get it reduced to a lesser charge for some of the same reasons, issues about whether they are factually guilty; legal issues about how the police acted and maybe they violated the person’s rights, or stopped them without a legal reason. They may have detained them for investigation without reasonable suspicion, arrested them without a probable cause, or took a statement from them without reading them their rights. Sometimes there are issues like that that can be used to either get the case dismissed or get the case reduced to a lesser charge that is not going to be as damaging to the person.
Often, with reduction of charges, it can lead to some type of a class C result which can later be expunged, or some type of deferred adjudication probation which does not involve being convicted and then can later be sealed from the person’s record. There are lots of ways to get the cases dismissed, reduced to lesser charge and get other good results so that the person is not negatively affected in the future.