Thanksgiving was this week. There sure is a lot for many of us to be thankful of. We arrived downtown around 7:30 Friday morning. There were a few guys in the park on this chilly, teeth chattering Friday. Joe came running up to the truck and said "Do you have a sleeping bag? I am freezing" Joe was fine with the Mickey Mouse child's sleeping bag that had been donated some weeks earlier. Joe came through the line at least 3 times on Friday. He would say "Oh yea I forgot …" Gabriel showed up shivering, hoping to get a warm jacket, some hot cocoa and a meat sandwich to fill his belly. The coat that Gabriel received was donated from the Kyle thrift store. One of the twins was there, Alfred. Albert is the twin we normally see most often, so it was nice seeing Alfred this week.(They are rarely together, one may stand guard on their camp possibly) Alfred walked away with a smile after putting on a warm hoody, a clean pair of socks and a warm drink of coffee and cocoa mixture. Eric stayed and talked with us long after the others were served. He was venting about a felony that he has. He explained it is difficult to get a job with a felony. He told us a story about being hired for a job recently but in the end not getting a chance to work, because the background check turned up a felony. Eric thought the felony was taken care of by deferred adjudication, and was surprised when his employer told him the bad news before he could even start working. "It's hard to pay for food, clothes and housing if you don't have a job" Eric said. Eric told us his criminal defense lawyer described the consequences of the plea bargain as "deferred probation for the marijuana arrest along with community service, then the felony would be dismissed”. Eric's complaint was this is not what happend. After researching this later, I found this is exactly what happened. Yes, if you successfully complete a deferred probation in Texas, it’s “technically” true that the case is “dismissed” at the end of the probationary period, and you were never convicted. But that does not mean that it’s “off your record”, at least in the sense that the general public understands that phrase. Let’s face it, when future employers (or family, friends, nosy neighbors, whoever) find out that you’ve been arrested, they assume that you are guilty. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right? Isn't that what you were thinking when you read the title to this blog? After researching this, Shoulder the Cross plans on telling Eric that the law in Texas now allows probationers who complete deferred adjudication to apply for a Motion for Non-Disclosure. While it’s not as good as an Expunction, which completely erases the arrest from your record, it’s still a good option. Basically, Motions for Non-Disclosure seal your criminal history in a way that allows the State to keep the record (and therefore knows about it if you are ever rearrested), but is prohibited from disseminating the information to the public. Would you judge Eric? Would you have before reading this blog? It sure made us think.