If you have been charged with a first time felony or misdemeanor in Louisiana, you should try to have your attorney enter your plea under articles 893 / 894 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure. Article 893 is for felony pleas and 894 is for misdemeanor plea agreements. The importance of the 893 / 894 plea is that the conviction is never entered on your record, and if you follow all of the conditions, you will be allowed to expunge the arrest.
How It Works
When you enter a plea under 893 or 894, the conviction is “held in abeyance.” This means that your guilty plea is not accepted by the judge, but instead put aside while you complete certain conditions. If you complete these conditions, which will include staying out of trouble for a certain period of time and can also include classes, community service, counseling and the payment of fines or restitution, the judge will dismiss the charges.
You must fulfill all conditions set forth in your plea agreement including completion of probation, because otherwise the district attorney can bring you back to court and ask the judge to accept your previously entered guilty plea. The suspension of your sentence will then be revoked and you will have to serve your original jail sentence.
Example of Felony 893 Plea
The best way to explain how the pleas work is to give you an example. I have represented many clients in Louisiana who are first time offenders charged with a felony such as simple burglary. The standard plea agreement for first time felony charges in Lafayette Parish is usually five years suspended and three years active supervised probation. As part of the plea agreement, most district attorneys in this area will agree to allow you to enter your plea under article 893. The benefit of pleading under Article 893 is that once you complete your probation and a five year period has expired, you may move to have your record sealed. In this way, you avoid ever having a felony entered upon your record and you can have the matter completely expunged.
It is very important that your criminal defense lawyer states on the official court record that you are entering an 893 / 894 plea. Your attorney should also make sure that 894 / 893 is written on the plea agreement document or that the appropriate box is marked. It is your lawyer’s job to do this, but it does not hurt to make sure that your plea is officially recorded. Having documentation will help you to petition for an expungment of your arrest when you become eligible.
893 / 894 pleas are very easy to obtain if you are a first time offender, but your Louisiana criminal attorney will have to specifically ask the district attorney to accept the plea. If you have any further questions about articles 893/894 or expunging your arrest, please call my criminal defense law office for a free consultation.