Aiding Clients Through DUI Expungement
For many, the expungement of past criminal records can mark a significant turning point in their life. However, successfully securing an expungement requires the input of a competent and skilled lawyer.
Tangi Carter, a Mississippi attorney highly experienced in expunging cases, shares more on the process behind expungement and the positive impact it has had on the lives of many of her clients.
To begin with, what is the purpose of expungement?
An expungement is a mechanism by which an individual can petition the court to have a criminal record removed. If the client qualifies for expungement, he would then legally be able to state on job applications or school applications, that he has never been convicted of a crime. Further, he can state that he has never been arrested for a crime.
Most people do not understand that even if a jury acquits them or the charge is dismissed, there is still a record of the arrest even though the case was dismissed. In order to have the arrest removed, one must go through the extra step to have the entire case expunged. The records are removed from any local, state or federal authorities with a record of the charge.
What is the process involved in expungement in your jurisdiction?
The process varies depending on the type of charge and the type of sentence the court imposed. Some cases, like many violent felonies, are not expungeable.
For the most part, you must successfully complete whatever sentence the court imposes. Next, you would need to hire an attorney in most cases because the process is often complicated. You would file a civil petition to expunge in the court in which you were charged with a crime. The judge and the prosecutor must approve and sign the expungement order. Once the order is signed, the clerk’s office forwards the court order to the Mississippi Criminal Information Center where that office removes the charge from the county, state and federal systems.
What value does the process of expungement hold for past DUI offenders?
Expunging a DUI is an invaluable service. Many employers will not hire someone with a DUI on their record. Many licensing boards will not accept an individual with a DUI conviction, either. Finally, the public shame and stigma of receiving a DUI is removed. This is typically one of the most embarrassing events of a client’s life.
Most people do not understand that even if a jury acquits them or the charge is dismissed, there is still a record of the arrest even though the case was dismissed.
Are there limits on records that can be expunged in Mississippi?
Yes. An individual may only expunge one (1) felony conviction. You may, however, expunge as many arrests without convictions as you may have on your record.
How does the age of the conviction factor in?
For felony and DUI convictions, you must wait five years after you have completed the sentence before you may petition the court to expunge your record.
How can a skilled lawyer best ensure that an expungement order has the highest possible chance of success?
A skilled lawyer must be well versed in the law regarding expungements as different statutes apply to different charges and types of sentences. It can be very confusing for someone unfamiliar with expungements.
A skilled lawyer also knows the correct people to send the expungement orders to ensure that each agency expunges the charge from their records.
Can you tell us about some of your past work involving expungement?
I have expunged hundreds of cases. Additionally, some charges are not expungeable. We have many clients who hunt or want to carry firearms for personal safety. If the case cannot be expunged, we can still petition the court to have their firearms rights restored.
About Tangi Carter
Please tell us about your journey into law. What led you to found your own firm?
I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was five years old. My mother always worked at the courthouse (as a clerk, then court administrator, then court reporter). She would always take me to work with her. I spent so much time around the courthouse and around lawyers. I grew up in this environment. Both of my grandfathers worked for the local government. They would take me to the courthouse, too. My dad was a narcotics agent. My uncle was a deputy sheriff. My other uncle was the local elected District Attorney and now his son has the same position. My step-father was also in law enforcement. Today, my step-brother works at the local sheriff’s office and I have too many other relatives to name who are involved in some way in our legal system.
When I graduated law school, I started working as an Assistant Public Defender at the Public Defender’s Office in Pensacola, Florida. I worked there for many years and then I went into private practice. Next, I worked at the Federal Public Defender’s Office. I have always, for the most part, been a criminal defence lawyer. I opened my office in Mississippi in 2013. I practice all over the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. I am also on the CJA panel for the Southern District Court of MS. I am also admitted to practice in Tennessee and Florida.
What is it that motivates you to achieve success for your clients?
I truly get to know my clients. My clients become almost like family. I have to know them well enough to fight for their cause. Courtrooms are busy, crowded places. I want my client’s story to be heard. I do not want my client to be just another name on the docket. In order to tell the story, I must truly know the person I am representing. I spend a lot of time speaking to my client and their friends and relatives about who my client is.
I never rely solely on myself and my experience to strategise about a case. I always include my client and his family and friends in trial preparation. Some of my best ideas have come from my clients. This is my client’s life on the line. I take this very seriously and I always listen to what my client has to say. At the end of the day, I will go home to my life and they may not. I am here to serve them – not to be the smartest person in the room.
I think we forget that when we get out of law school, so I try to constantly remind myself why I am doing this. I am doing this to be of service. I am not doing this to inflate my ego. Sometimes that distinction is difficult. I see the flaw in myself and certainly in other lawyers.
Can you share anything about your plans for the future of your practice?
I have been a lawyer for 25 years. I love being a criminal defence attorney. In January, I hired my first associate lawyer, Lindsay Arevalo. She is an experienced criminal defence lawyer and she is also taking youth court and some family law matters.
My plan is to continue to grow my law firm. I want to be the best criminal defence firm in the state. I think we are moving in that direction. I have an excellent crew here. Cheryl Warren is my office manager and paralegal and Amanda Maurer is another paralegal here. Our receptionist is Dakota Pruitt. We have an excellent internship program through the University of Southern Mississippi, so we always have one or two interns around.
My husband, Mark, and I love to travel. My goal would be to have a law firm that runs itself and to assist with some of the more complex criminal jury trials. I would love to continue to speak to clients, represent clients and handle the marketing, etc. but to also have the freedom to travel for a large part of the year.
Tangi Carter, Founder
912 W Pine St, Hattiesburg, MS 39401, USA
Tel: +1 601-544-1313
Tangi Carter is a highly practiced attorney and former Federal and State Public Defender with extensive experience in handling trials, pleas, sentencings, bail hearings, arraignments, docket calls, motion hearings and probation violations. Tangi primarily handles federal and state criminal cases throughout Mississippi and Louisiana and was recently identified as one of the Top 100 Criminal Trial Lawyers in the State of Mississippi for the second year in a row. She was also selected as one of 2022’s Mississippi Leaders in Law Award recipients by the Mississippi Business Journal.