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Sarah Vernier Wood

Sarah Wood’s Answers

5 total

  • Can a back seat passenger be charged for contraband hidden in the drivers vehicle

    nothing is in site of any passenger

    Sarah’s Answer

    Absolutely, they can be charged. It happens every day - even to perfectly innocent people. The real question is: Can they be convicted? As the saying goes, you can beat the rap (the charges) but you can't beat the ride (the headache of being charged).

    To get a conviction for possession, the prosecution is required to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the person had "actual care, custody, control, or management" of the contraband. Good luck to you.

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  • What are the steps to expunging a felony?

    I have a 3rd degree felony on my record and am wanting to get it expunged. How do I do this?

    Sarah’s Answer

    You need a lawyer to be sure this is done correctly.

    1. Determine if you are eligible. Generally, your record can be expunged if your arrest did not result in either a conviction or probation. So if the charges were dismissed, you were acquitted at trial, you were no-billed by a grand jury, or you pled guilty to a Class C Special Expense, you can likely get it expunged.

    2. Determine your waiting period. Unless you were acquitted, you usually must wait until the statute of limitations expires to file for an expunction. The time period usually varies from 3-10 years depending on the charges.

    3. Draft and file your petition with the civil district court. It must include the details of your arrest and a list of agencies that possess the records. You will need to pay a filing fee to the district clerk. The agencies will need to be served with copies.

    4. Get the judge to sign your order - either by getting the district attorney and the agencies to agree or by having a hearing.

    Again, you really need a lawyer for this. Good luck.

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  • What agencies should be notified when filing a petition of "non disclosure" to clear record?

    Want to seal criminal record after probation release. We are filing without attorney and are not sure who to notify.

    Sarah’s Answer

    Under Texas Government Code 411.081(g-1), the Department of Public Safety has the duty to notify other agencies of the order. If you insist on doing your petition yourself, you must read this statute.

    However, it is not a good idea to do it yourself. We represented a man who had earlier purchased a "do-it-yourself kit" and stood in front of the judge by himself. The prosecutor wrongly and rudely convinced the judge that the man was ineligible to have his record sealed. Luckily, the man later hired us and we got the judge to change his mind and seal the record. Unfortunately, judges and prosecutors don't like to listen to people who represent themselves.

    Also, there are lots of technicalities you might miss without a lawyer. Under the law, some deferreds can be sealed and some cannot. If you have a family violence case, for instance, you are ineligible for nondisclosure. Other cases in your background may also make you ineligible. Certain cases have different waiting periods. Most felonies must wait 5 years, some misdemeanors must wait 2 years, and some misdemeanors are immediately eligible. Also, different judges have their own requirements for granting nondisclosures. For example, some will make you pass a drug test. Others will make you wait a number of years even if you are immediately eligible under the law.

    Consider your priorities. Think about other things you spend money on. Remember this can affect the rest of your life.

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  • What is the punishment for criminal mischief, class B or C misdemeanor in Texas?

    We believe our neighbor drilled holes into our tree and attempted to poison it. There were granules in the drill holes which were collected, and our neighbor told us he could poison our tree if we wanted him to. We told him no. (Note: I found the ...

    Sarah’s Answer

    I actually once represented a man charged with criminal mischief for poisoning his neighbor's tree. Our client didn't get along well with his neighbor and had a few beers one night and went over into her yard and poured gasoline onto the roots of her tree. The grass died in a circle around it, but the tree itself seemed to suffer no damage. Because the tree was unharmed, my client was innocent of the charge and his case was dismissed. Perhaps you should hire a tree specialist to take a look at the holes. Document what you believe has happened and stay safe.

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  • Does having your record Sealed or Expunged help at all? I am looking for a better Job. I am trying to better with my life.

    I was on probation for 6 years for selling of a controlled substance under a gram. and I have some other little thing on my record. I have been looking for the best way to get these thing taken care of. I have talk to some attorney's which the cha...

    Sarah’s Answer

    Assuming you are eligible to petition the court for nondisclosure, you should definitely not try to do it by yourself. I once knew a man who had purchased a "do-it-yourself kit" for his nondisclosure. He filled out the forms, filed the papers, and then went to the hearing by himself. At the hearing, he stood in front of the judge's bench and, even though he was a smart guy, he was nervous and didn't quite know what to say. The prosecutor rudely argued to the judge that the man was not eligible to have his record sealed and the judge believed him and refused to grant the man's nondisclosure. The poor guy was upset and embarrassed by the whole ordeal. He immediately hired us and we were able to ask the judge to reconsider. Luckily, we convinced the judge that the prosecutor was wrong and the judge reluctantly did agree to grant the petition for nondisclosure. Unfortunately, judges and prosecutors don't like to listen to people who represent themselves in these matters. You really have to hire a lawyer. It is important and can affect the rest of your life.

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