If your case is a “close call”, then hiring a lawyer is an especially wise move and a prudent use of your scarce time and money. Your case is a close call if you had a particularly bad or embarrassing charge, if your probation behavior was less than perfect (your probation was violated or revoked), or you had a lot of convictions (a long rap sheet).
Here are five things you want to keep in mind in deciding whether to hire a lawyer to assist you in expunging your Oregon record or proceeding by yourself.1. Essent Law Unbundles Legal Services for Expungements
– “Hiring” a lawyer need not
mean paying thousands of dollars! Essent Law unbundles or tailors legal services. For example, for clients who didn’t have the money to hire us to handle all aspects of their expungement, we’ve merely reviewed and made sure expungement filings were correct. Call us about our unbundled or tailored expungement pricing
.2. Filing Fees and Other Expenses: You could spend $250 or more for nothing
. You’ve got to remember that filing fees are $252 for each case number nowadays (late 2014), not to mention fingerprinting fees and the $80 check to the Department of State Police for your background check required by ORS 137.225. If you err on the filings (easy to do for nonprofessionals) or are in fact ineligible, the court will not, not, not give you your money back. If you file your own expungement motion, you are, in effect, placing a bet that you are $252+ confident that you are eligible. You can check out our expungement pricing
here.3. Do you have a “close expungement case?”
– Serious crimes, a lengthy criminal history, especially stigmatic crimes, such as sex-related
charges, or you screwed up your probation, and only “graduated” after various probation violations or even an all-out
probation revocation. All of these are grounds on which the D.A. can oppose your Oregon expungement motion (See list from the Marion County D.A.’s Office, below, as of October 2013
4. “Speak softly and carry a big stick, you’ll go far” – I’ve seen people who file for expungement themselves and things go south. They file, but the the D.A. objects, which triggers a hearing. The client then faces the dilemma of (1) securing a lawyer at—often—the last minute and having to pay more thus increasing the costs they have to pay to expunge their record or (2) taking on the D.A.’s office themselves—the legal equivalent of bringing a knife to a gun fight. You’re just really outmatched. In contrast, securing counsel before filing is the epitome of the speak softly and carry a big stick approach.
A great deal of value of hiring counsel is that the other side knows you have a lawyer and you’re taking this very seriously. It’s common sense, really. Just place yourself in the D.A.’s shoes: which expungement proposal (“motion”) are you more likely to oppose–to fight? A professionally prepared, drafted, and delivered expungement package or one that is, perhaps, rather sloppy, prepared by an amateur who doesn’t know about evidence law, criminal law, court operations, or persuading a particular judge?
5. Do you have a fool for a client? — One last thing. There’s a very old saying that a person who represents himself or herself has a fool for a client. The point is that it is really difficult to be your own advocate and to do it well. People tend to two extremes: they over-advocate or under-advocate. It’s really hard to be objective and convincing about your own cause, especially when the stakes are high—and the stakes are really high in expungements. A lot of important things are on the line: your good name, your reputation, career opportunities, earning capacity, ability to volunteer on behalf of your children or grandchildren, engage in community activities, own a firearm, etc., etc. Only a very, very few can represent themselves well. You’re probably not one of them. Counsel yourself against having a fool for a client.
Bottom Line: For people who have a less-than-perfect history after their conviction, who have many convictions, or have sex-offense or other sensitive or embarrassing convictions, investing in a expungement attorney is especially advisable to make sure you get the outcome that you want as soon as possible and to avoid the dilemma of fighting the DA yourself in court or paying a lawyer hundreds or thousands of dollars at the 11th hour. For immediate help, contact Essent Law today.
List of ways DA can oppose Oregon expungement motion.