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Hundreds Apply To Clean Up Criminal Records, But Dallas County Isn’t Done Taking Applications Yet

Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot
Christopher Connelly
/
KERA News
Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot's office runs the program.

In just one week, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office has received more than 1,400 applications from residents hoping to erase their criminal records.

“We said we wanted this to be our best Expo yet. I’m thrilled so many people are taking the step to clean up their records,” Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot said in an email.

The Expunction Expo, which began taking applications last week, is a free community program designed to help people who are eligible to have their criminal records erased. This is the program's fifth year accepting applications. Since 2017 has helped clear more than 900 records.

Having an arrest record can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Often, having a criminal record creates barriers for individuals wanting to obtain jobs, housing, or financial aid for college. Without an expunction, offenses will appear on a person’s criminal background check.

Dallas County District Clerk Felicia Pitre was surprised with the sheer volume of people who have applied to the expunction program.

"We're just inundated. And so my staff and I were working overtime to return all the phone calls, actually registering people ourselves because they don't have access to the internet," she said.

The Expunction Expo program pairs volunteer lawyers and lawyers in training from UNT Dallas College of Law, SMU Dedman School of Law Criminal Clinic and the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative, with residents who've applied online to help the individuals file the necessary legal paperwork and determine whether or not they can have their arrest records expunged.

There is no legal fee associated with the expo for participants and the county clerk filing fee is waived for a majority of participants.

The Expunction Expo saw a dip in applications last year, in the midst of the pandemic and Pitre is excited to see more Dallas County residents taking the opportunity to clear criminal records.

"Now, individuals apply does not necessarily mean everyone will qualify," Pitre said.

There are limits to the sorts of things that can be erased from one’s record. The expo only considers Dallas County offenses and city of Dallas tickets and offenses.

Applications are open until July 26 and residents who are approved should hear back by early September. Those accepted will attend the virtual pre-qualification clinic later that month.

Who is eligible to apply for an expunction?

  • If you were arrested but a charge was never filed or was no-billed by the grand jury
  • If your criminal charge was dismissed without any type of community supervision or probation prior to dismissal, except for Class C offenses,
  • If you successfully completed Class C deferred adjudication,
  • If you were acquitted on your charge by a judge or jury (usually by a finding of “Not Guilty”), or appellate court, or
  • If you were convicted of a crime but later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States.

People not eligible include those with a pending case, convicted, placed on probation, community supervision or if convicted or received any kind of probation on another felony or arrest.

If you're not sure that your have a Dallas County arrest record. You can check here.

For more information and how to apply click here.

A big part of the work we do here at KERA News involves hearing from you. If you’ve applied to have your record expunged, we’d like to hear why and what this would mean for you. Email us at digitalnews@kera.org.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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