Plea Under Advisement in Arkansas
A lot of people want to keep a criminal or traffic charge off of their record. One of the ways we do that in Arkansas is with a plea under advisement. Although a fairly simple process, it does have a lot of nuances and depending on the situation may not be the best way to handle your case.
Some thoughts on plea under advisement.The subject of a plea under advisement and whether a person should consider asking for one is beyond the intended scope of this article. Below is an email I sent to a parent who's son had received a minor in possession of alcohol charge and wanted me to keep it off his record. After reviewing the case with them it was one where the son was clearly guilty. The main concern was keeping it off of his record for future employment purposes. After reviewing everything I advised them that hiring me to handle the case would probably be a waste of money and that he should just plead guilty and then hire me to seal the record in sixty days. As promised they called me in sixty days to do the expungement, but unfortunately the court entered his plea under advisement. What follows is my email to the father after I looked at the court record.
Keep in mind that a plea under advisement does not actually keep the charge off or your record, it just means that the court does not report the plea to Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts or the Arkansas State Police/ACIC.
Is a guilty plea sometimes better than a plea under advisement?I received the court docket for John Doe and we are going to have to wait until October of 2018 to seal his record. His plea was entered "under advisement for 12 months" which means that although he pled guilty the court put him on probation for one year with the stipulation that they will not enter a finding of guilt or transmit the conviction to the criminal database administrators as long as he does not get into any other trouble during the one year period. His arrest and court case are still public record until sealed. Regrettably, we cannot do that until 60 days after the completion of his case, which will not occur until after the one-year advisement period. When we talked a couple of months ago, I had told you that he needed to just plead guilty and not ask that it be put under advisement. It is not a huge deal and we can still seal the record, we just have to wait.
The positive from this is that although he "has pled guilty" he "has not been found guilty". The quotation marks are to indicate the specific technical nuance as it relates to most employment situations. He can also technically state that the "charges against him were dismissed" after the one year period. Both of these are nuances that may or may not carry a lot of weight when being looked at for employment purposes.
Overall, this is not a big deal, and in some ways it may be better for him, but it does mean we have to wait. My usual thought process on these things is that for most simple misdemeanors only involving a fine and cost that you do not want to put them under advisement so that you can go ahead and seal them in 60 days, and that you should reserve under advisement for traffic matters or more serious misdemeanors such as battery or reckless driving which might involve jail time.