The Civil Division of the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office handles all aspects of Asset Forfeitures, Bond Forfeitures, Public Information Act requests, Expunction and Non-Disclosure petitions, and responses to Civil Subpoenas directed to the District Attorney’s Office. The primary contact person for the Civil Division is Assistant District Attorney Mark LaForge ([email protected]). Email communication is preferred.
In 1989, the Texas Legislature significantly modified existing asset forfeiture laws in the form of Chapter 59 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. A general purpose of the law is to reduce the occurrence of profit-motivated criminal activities by giving the State abilities, under civil laws and procedures, to seize and request court-ordered forfeitures of contraband and proceeds of certain serious crimes, in addition to whatever criminal punishments Defendants may incur.
Civil asset forfeiture cases and companion criminal cases are separate lawsuits and can be resolved independently of one another. If you are a party to a civil asset forfeiture case, then you or your attorney may contact Assistant District Attorney Mark LaForge about potential settlement resolutions.
Bond Forfeiture civil cases are lawsuits wherein the State seeks a form of monetary relief after criminal defendants fail to appear in court, in violation of their bond. These cases are frequently resolved through settlement agreements with the District Attorney’s Office. For all inquiries regarding Bond Forfeiture civil cases, please contact Administrative Secretary Lana Chilek ([email protected]).
Public Information Act (Open Records) Requests
Originally adopted in 1973, the Texas Public Information Act is currently codified in Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code. Its goal is to ensure that citizens are afforded a transparent and more complete understanding of how their government works by allowing the public access to certain information held by governmental entities throughout the State of Texas.
All requests for public information must be made in writing (or typed) and can be mailed, faxed, emailed, or hand-delivered to the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, attention to Assistant District Attorney Mark LaForge. The District Attorney’s Office may seek clarification from a requestor pursuant to Texas Government Code Section 552.222.
For Public Information Act requests for information held by any other department or agency of Fort Bend County, apart from the District Attorney’s Office, please direct any inquiries to the Fort Bend County Attorney’s Office ([email protected], ph. 281-341-4555).
Per the Texas Public Information Act, some documents and other items containing responsive information must first be reviewed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office before the District Attorney’s Office may release them to a requestor. This review process may potentially take up to several months to complete. Furthermore, please be aware that the Texas Public Information Act is a separate and distinct law from the Federal Freedom of Information Act.
Expunction and Non-Disclosure Petitions
Expunction and Non-Disclosure petitions are a way for criminal defendants to seek court orders to have all or part of their criminal records permanently deleted or hidden from public view, if eligible, with certain prerequisites under the law.
For the specifics of what should appear in an expunction petition and order, please review Article 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. For the specifics of what should appear in a non-disclosure petition and order, please review Texas Government Code Sec. 411. For reference purposes, TexasLawHelp.org is a comprehensive resource.
It is the Petitioner’s responsibility, as the movant, to ensure that all proper parties have received notice of the petition and court dates, as required by law and the particular procedures of the County or District Court where the petition is filed. For more information, please contact the Court Coordinators of each Court.
For agreed orders, the preferred procedure of the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office is that all proposed orders are reviewed, via email, by Assistant District Attorney Mark LaForge. The Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office cannot sign an order as agreed on behalf of any other law enforcement agency or governmental entity. It is ultimately the Petitioner’s responsibility to file any agreed orders with the Fort Bend County Clerk or District Clerk.
Special Expunctions for Identity Theft Victims
Per Article 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, victims of identity theft are entitled to an expunction when a criminal defendant uses a victim’s personal information to identify themselves to law enforcement personnel in the process of an investigation, arrest or prosecution.
If you are a victim of identity theft and believe your information has been used, without authorization, by a criminal defendant that has resulted in a false or inaccurate criminal history record being generated, then please contact Assistant District Attorney Mark LaForge for information on how to proceed. A victim may be entitled to a mandatory expunction of their personal information that incorrectly appears in criminal records and government databases. The required legal documents to obtain this expunction will be prepared and filed by the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office.