Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Remove a Guilty Disposition from My Certificate?

Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Remove a Guilty Disposition from My Certificate?

Getting arrested and charged with a crime can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. Even if you are innocent or the charges are minor, having a criminal record can negatively impact your life in many ways. From employment and housing discrimination to immigration issues, a criminal conviction makes everything more challenging.Fortunately, in many cases, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help remove or change a guilty disposition from your record. Here’s an overview of how it works and what options may be available in your specific situation.

Understanding Dispositions

When a criminal case concludes, the court enters a final judgment known as a disposition. Common dispositions include:

  • Guilty – You were convicted at trial or pled guilty. This creates a permanent criminal record.
  • Not Guilty – You were acquitted at trial. No conviction results, but the arrest remains on your record.
  • Dismissed – The charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence, an illegal search, or other procedural grounds. However, the arrest still shows.
  • Deferred Adjudication – You pled guilty but there is no formal conviction if you successfully complete probation.
  • Pretrial Diversion – The charges are dismissed after completing rehab, community service, or other requirements.

The disposition determines whether you have a criminal conviction and what shows up on background checks. Obviously, a guilty disposition is the most damaging.

Changing the Disposition

If your case already concluded with a guilty disposition, changing it is difficult but may be possible in certain circumstances. Here are some options your criminal defense lawyer may pursue:

1. File a Motion for a New Trial

If your trial had serious errors or newly discovered evidence proves your innocence, your attorney can request a new trial to get a different verdict. This must occur within 30 days of the conviction in most states.

2. File an Appeal

You can appeal the verdict or sentence if errors affected the outcome or if the punishment exceeds sentencing guidelines. This is a lengthy process and success rates are low.

3. Request a Pardon

A governor’s pardon forgives your crime and restores some rights lost with a felony conviction. However, it does not erase or change the disposition.

4. Seek a Certificate of Rehabilitation

This proves you have been rehabilitated after completing parole. It does not change the disposition but improves employment prospects.

5. Request Record Sealing or Expungement

Sealing hides a conviction from public view but does not change the disposition. Expungement completely deletes the record of your arrest and conviction. Laws vary greatly by state.

6. File for Post-Conviction Relief

If your lawyer finds new evidence of innocence or a significant technical error in your trial, they can request your conviction be vacated or modified post-trial.

Avoiding a Guilty Disposition

Of course, it is always better to avoid a guilty disposition in the first place if possible. Here are some steps your criminal defense attorney may take:

  • Negotiate with the prosecutor to get charges reduced or dismissed
  • Suppress illegally obtained evidence
  • Raise affirmative defenses showing you lacked criminal intent
  • Identify procedural errors to get charges dismissed
  • Negotiate a deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion program
  • Take your case to trial if you have strong defenses

An experienced lawyer thoroughly investigates your case, identifies weaknesses, and develops the best legal strategies. Their negotiations with prosecutors can often lead to charges being lowered or dropped entirely.If charges proceed to trial, a not guilty verdict prevents a criminal record. Your attorney’s skills in presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, raising reasonable doubt, and making persuasive arguments to the jury can sometimes win an acquittal.

When Is Changing a Disposition Possible?

Unfortunately, changing a guilty disposition is not always feasible. The options depend heavily on:

  • The specific laws and policies in your jurisdiction
  • The severity of your charges
  • The strength of your defenses and the trial errors or new evidence
  • Your criminal history and record since the conviction
  • The amount of time passed since the conviction

For minor convictions, record sealing or expungement may be available after a certain period of time passes. More serious violent felonies usually cannot be removed from your record.That’s why avoiding a guilty disposition in the first place should be your top priority if falsely accused. An experienced criminal defense lawyer thoroughly examines the evidence and identifies any potential weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case against you.Through motions to suppress evidence, affirmative defenses, plea negotiations, trial skills, appeals, and other strategies, a skilled attorney strives to get charges dismissed or win a not guilty verdict. This prevents a guilty disposition from ever marring your record.

Consult an Attorney Today

If you’re currently facing criminal charges or have a past conviction you want removed from your record, consult a criminal defense attorney immediately. Defending your rights, freedom, and future requires experienced legal representation.Don’t leave the outcome to chance. An attorney can evaluate your options under the laws in your state and develop an aggressive strategy. They know how to negotiate with prosecutors effectively and present the strongest case possible if charges proceed to trial.While changing a guilty disposition is an uphill battle, avoiding one altogether by winning a dismissal or acquittal is the best outcome. An attorney maximizes your chances of success through meticulous case preparation, skillful negotiation, and zealous courtroom advocacy.With so much at stake, protect yourself by scheduling a consultation. An attorney can provide honest answers to your questions, explain how the process works, and start building your defense for the best possible result.