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 may be set aside or dismissed if you follow all the conditions of your sentence. Additionally, you will be granted the opportunity to expunge your record..

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 deferred and 1 year active probation.  Once client successfully completes probation and pays all fines and costs, she may file a motion to have the conviction set aside or dismissed pursuant to article 894 and also move to have her record sealed. Having a conviction set aside has the same legal effect as an acquittal or not guilty at a trial.

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 3 years incarceration deferred 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 conviction set aside and her record sealed, thereby completely avoiding the appearance of a felony on her record.

In both of these examples, it is imperative that the client fulfill all conditions of probation, which may 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. Otherwise, the probation officer could summons the client back to court and ask the judge to revoke her probation and order her to serve her original jail sentence.

Additionally, the 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  and Sex Crimes are not eligible for an 894/893 plea.  Louisiana lawmakers have also designated the crime of Domestic Battery, both misdemeanor and felony, not eligible for an 894/893 plea. Furthermore, these offenses are also non-expungeable.

What if my plea was not entered under 894/893?

In 2019, the Louisiana legislature created a means by which a first time offender may get a record expunged when the offense was not pled under Article 894/893. The old law stated that such offenders would have to wait 10 years for an expungement. Now, a first time offender is immediately eligible for an expungement provided the offense is expungeable under Louisiana law and the offender has received a “first offender pardon” letter from probation and parole.

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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