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Would a dismissed or deferred charge in Texas keep me from licensing?

Sherman, TX |

I have a theft charge on my record from 2007 that was reduced to a misdemeanor by the court after a bit of research. Honestly, I was guilty by association. A person whom I was romantically involved with decided to steal from a department store and place these items in my bag while I was out of the dressing room, completely without my knowledge. When he was caught walking out of the store, I was detained andthe charge was split between the two of us due to the fact that he would not take full responsibility for his actions. I want to become a real estate agent very badly. It has always been a dream of mine. My question: what do I need to do from this point on? I dont want to spend the money on a test and be told that I can't certify due to an old charge that wasnt my fault to begin with.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

What was the final disposition of the case? Did you have an attorney?

Asker

Posted

I had a court appointed attorney. The charge was dropped from a felony to a class a misdemeanor after I completed probation terms.

Asker

Posted

I just want this to stop preventing me from getting jobs that I want and from attaining my real estate license in Texas. I want to know what I need to do to take care of this or how to go about things now. Problem is, I was arrested for parking tickets about two years after the charge was dropped dowm to a misdemeanor so im not sure if I'm eligible for nondisclosure since I hear you can't have been convicted of anything else within a 5 year period after the case is done.

David Christopher Hardaway

David Christopher Hardaway

Posted

Based on those facts, you shouldn't have pled to anything since you didn't knowingly participate. Unfortunately, you've now got something you can't get expunged. You can get a petition for non-disclosure, but it won't keep a licensing board from being able to see it. The best thing would be if your lawyer told you something that wasn't correct that led you to decide to take a plea. If the lawyer provided ineffective assistance, you can possibly go back and file a writ to pop that conviction.

Asker

Posted

How would I go about filing a writ? And if I attempted to license in another state, would my charge from texas still show up? Also, are there any circumstances where I would be able to still license even though that charge is still on my record?

David Christopher Hardaway

David Christopher Hardaway

Posted

You would absolutely need a lawyer to file a writ, one with some criminal appellate experience ideally. The charge is going to show up on your licensing background checks in all states. Government entities can't be blocked from seeing the arrest. I honestly don't know anything about real estate licensing, so I don't know if it'd be an issue and if so how much of one it would be. What did your lawyer say to you to convince you to plead guilty when you didn't even know the items were in your purse? Because that would determine whether you'd have any grounds for a writ in the first place.

Asker

Posted

Basically, he told me that since the other party wouldn't take full responsibility for the crime that it was split down the middle and that my best option would to be accepting probation to have the charge dropped downto a misdemeanor.

Asker

Posted

It was my first offense and I was very uninformed on the whole situation so I took the advice he gave me.

David Christopher Hardaway

David Christopher Hardaway

Posted

What county was this in?

Asker

Posted

Dallas county

David Christopher Hardaway

David Christopher Hardaway

Posted

Let me ask you this, did your attorney tell you to plead it out because he thought that the trier of fact wouldn't believe you when you said you had nothing to do with it? Or did they tell you that it didn't matter if you knew it was in your purse or not? One is a judgment call (albeit not necessarily a good one), but one is a mis-statement of the law.

Asker

Posted

I was told it didnt matter and that the charge was the charge.

David Christopher Hardaway

David Christopher Hardaway

Posted

Well that's erroneous, of course mental state matters! It's one of the elements of the offense. It certainly sounds like you received ineffective assistance, what I don't know the answer to is whether or not it would be too late to file a writ after the term of deferred has ended. But a good appellate lawyer probably would, so I'd call one up today. If you're in Dallas, there should be plenty good ones to choose from.

Posted

You need to contact the real estate licensing entity and ask them whether it's an absolute bar. It may depend on whether you have a final conviction in the case. My understanding is they do not look fondly on crimes of moral turptitude.

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Posted

I was an enforcement attorney for the Texas Real Estate Commission and an administrative law judge with the State Office Of Administrative Hearings, where hearings on these applications are held now. I agree that the Commission will deem this conviction a crime of moral turptitude and then more specifically say that it "directly relates to the business of real estate sales" in that theft involves money and they believe you might handle funds entrusted to you as a licensed agent. If your crime was committed in 2007, then an administrative law judge would likely say that 2013 was too soon since your criminal act to show rehabilitation. You can explain the conviction, but the judge and the commission will be reluctant to go behind the finding of the criminal court judgment. So, time, letters of recommendation, and good clean living will be the only fix.

Having said that, it would not hurt to put your application together, wait until they deny it, set it for a hearing, tell your story to the judge, and wait for the "no" answer. That will at least give you a benchmark to show them your clean living the next time you apply (like maybe 3-5 years down the road). This all assumes that you have the requisite eduation courses. Those requirements have become significant in Texas. The cost of the aplication itself, that you discuss, is a relatively small part of your concern.

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