Dallas County residents can clean up their criminal records through free annual program

Dallas County residents can clean up their criminal records through free annual program

John Creuzot
Since it began in 2017, the Expunction Expo has helped clear 942 records.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, right, speaks as the offices of the Dallas County District Attorney and the Dallas County District Clerk announced the 5th annual Expunction Expo during a press conference at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The expo, a community outreach program, will be hosted by the offices in collaboration with many partners, including the City of Dallas and the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office. The application period to the expo is open July 6-26.(Lynda M. González / Staff Photographer)

By Praveena Somasundaram

The Dallas County district attorney’s and district clerk’s offices are planning their fifth annual Expunction Expo, a chance for some people to clear their criminal records.

The program, which involves the city of Dallas, the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office and community partners, has helped clear 942 records since it began in 2017.

“I recognized the importance of the program when I took office in 2019,” District Attorney John Creuzot said at a news conference Tuesday. “An expunction, which clears a person’s criminal record in certain cases, can be life-changing for people who are looking for a job or applying to school.”

Since it began under then-District Attorney Faith Johnson, the expo has received 3,291 applications — meaning around 30% of them have been approved for expunctions.

Creuzot said it’s common for people to apply too early or to apply without understanding the eligibility requirements.

Expunctions may be granted for people who were arrested but were never charged or indicted or in some cases if a criminal charge was dismissed or a person was acquitted, pardoned or completed deferred adjudication.

Last year, the Expunction Expo was conducted virtually for the first time because of the pandemic, causing a noticeable decline in participation. In 2019, there were 1,284 applications and 329 expunctions. Those numbers fell to 575 applications and 234 expunctions last year.

Creuzot said he expects to surpass 1,000 expunctions this year, meaning the program will complete at least 58 more expunctions as part of this year’s expo.

Eligible applicants are matched with volunteer attorneys to help them file legal documentation. There is no fee for the expo, and the cost of filing with the district clerk’s office is waived for nearly all participants.

“It’s a wonderful program,” District Clerk Felicia Pitre said. “It’s restorative justice for individuals who have difficulties finding jobs, finding homes. So this is just an opportunity for Dallas County to give back.”

Creuzot said his office has been encouraging other counties to offer expunction programs. Travis County started one last year, and Collin County announced its program in March.

“Our goal is to make expunctions accessible to those who might not otherwise be able to afford an attorney or know how to navigate this legal system,” he said.

Applicants can apply online until July 26 and there will be application forms available at the Dallas community courts and the district clerk’s office by the end of Wednesday.

Applicants will be notified by Sept. 3 if they are eligible to attend the virtual pre-qualification clinic Sept. 10 and 11 to be matched with an attorney.

A record may be expunged if it meets the following criteria:

  • A person was arrested but a charge was never filed or was no billed by the grand jury.
  • A criminal charge was dismissed without any type of community supervision or probation before dismissal, except for Class C offenses.
  • A person successfully completed Class C deferred adjudication.
  • A person was acquitted by a judge, jury (usually by a finding of not guilty) or appellate court.
  • A person was convicted of a crime but was later pardoned by the governor or the president of the United States.

Texas Metro News


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