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Court may order expunction of felony or misdemeanor charges

Texas law allows for several instances in which criminal charges may be wiped and expunged from a person's record. Generally, felony or misdemeanor records can be excised where the charges did not result in conviction. The procedure to obtain relief involves the filing of a petition for expunction of criminal records. In some states, a petition for expungement is the preferred terminology.

Each state has its own expunction or expungement statute that sets forth the qualifications for relief. In Texas, convictions are generally not the subject of expunction requests. However, if the person is pardoned after conviction, an expunction petition is allowed. In addition, several types of juvenile court convictions may qualify for expunction.

Expunction will also be considered in Texas where the accused was acquitted at a trial or by a court order dismissing the charges. Where the prosecution fails to prosecute the case after arrest, relief may also be requested. Another example of potential relief is demonstrated by a recent petition for expunction filed by the wife of a Smith County Constable in which she requested expunction of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The charges in 2016 followed the treatment at a hospital of her husband and 5-year-old granddaughter for gunshot wounds. The child suffered a minor wound to the foot and the husband recovered after surgery for a wound that was not life-threatening. A grand jury in Texas entered a bill of no indictment and the case was dismissed.

With no prosecution and no conviction, the request for expunction is appropriately made, but relief is granted at the discretion of the court. It is unclear why the grand jury failed to indict for the felony charges. That may be due to her actual innocence or it may reflect evidentiary or other factors making a prosecution inadvisable and/or unjust under the circumstances. For persons who have a criminal conviction that precludes expunction, the individual may discuss with his or her attorney the possibility of requesting and obtaining an order of non-disclosure under Texas law. Such relief provides some but not all the benefits of expunction.  

Source:, "Smith County Constable's wife requests removal of aggravated assault charges from criminal record", Louanna Campbell, Aug. 21, 2017

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