Article 893 / 894 — First Time Offenders and Expungements Louisiana

Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893 / 894

If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor for the first time in Louisiana, you should ask your attorney to enter any guilty plea under Article 893 or 894 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure.  Article 893 is for felony pleas and 894 is for misdemeanor pleas.  The advantage of the 893 / 894 plea is that the conviction is never entered on your record.  If you follow all the conditions of your sentence, you will be granted the opportunity to expunge the arrest.

Example #1

Client was arrested and charged with Simple Battery, a misdemeanor.  After reviewing the case, the client chose to plea guilty.  As part of the plea agreement, the district attorney agreed to allow client to enter her plea under article 894.  The judge sentenced the client to 6 months incarceration suspended and 1 year active probation.  Once client successfully completes probation and pays all fines and costs.  She may file a motion to have her record sealed, thereby completely avoiding the appearance of a criminal record.

When you enter a plea under 893 or 894, the conviction is deferred. This means that your guilty plea is not accepted by the judge, but instead put aside while you complete your probation. If you complete the requirements of your probation, which will include: 1) staying out of trouble for a certain period of time, 2) classes, 3) community service, 4) counseling, 5) random drug testing and 6) payment of fines or restitution, the judge will dismiss the charges.

It is imperative that you fulfill all conditions set forth in your plea agreement including completion of probation.  Otherwise, your probation officer and/or the district attorney can summons you back to court and ask the judge to revoke your probation and accept your previously entered guilty plea. The suspension of your sentence will cease and you will have to serve your original jail sentence.

Example #2

Client was arrested and charged with Distribution of Cocaine.  The district attorney agreed to reduce the charge to Simple Possession of Cocaine in exchange for a guilty plea under Article 893.  The judge sentenced her to 5 years incarceration suspended and 3 years active probation.  Once client successfully completes the 3 years of probation and pays all fees and costs. She may file a motion to have her record sealed, thereby completely avoiding the appearance of a felony on her record.

Your criminal defense lawyer must state on the official court record that you are entering a plea under Article 893 / 894.  It should also be in writing on your plea agreement.  Having this kind of documentation will help you to petition for an expungment of your arrest when you become eligible.

Note: More serious offenses, such as Crimes of Violence are not eligible for an 893 plea.  These offenses are also non-expungeable.

When it appears that the best interest of the public and of the defendant will be served, the court, after a first, second, or third conviction of a noncapital felony, may suspend, in whole or in part, the imposition or execution of either or both sentences, where suspension is allowed under the law, and in either or both cases place the defendant on probation under the supervision of the division of probation and parole. The court shall not suspend the sentence of a second or third conviction of R.S. 14:73.5.

The maximum probation term for nonviolent crimes is not to exceed 3 years, with the exception of pornography involving juveniles La.R.S. 14:81.1 and molestation of a juvenile or person with a physical or mental disability La. R.S. 14:81.2.  However, the courts are authorized to extend probation up to 8 years if needed to complete a specialty court program.

Generally, 893 / 894 pleas are easy to obtain for first time offenders. It is the Criminal Justice System’s way of giving someone another chance.  If you have been arrested and need legal representation, call Contact Elizabeth B. Carpenter, Esq.  We are ready to help you!

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