Expunction of Criminal Records
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR EXPUNGING CRIMINAL RECORDS?
Case citation: Ex parte Harold Cornish, Dkt. No. 05-11-01276- CV (Tex. App. – Dallas, February 14, 2014).
Summary: Harold Cornish was arrested for assault in December of 2009. In April of 2011, Cornish filed a petition to expunge the arrest records, arguing that the charges stemming from the arrest had been dismissed, the statute of limitations for the offense had expired, and he had been released of the charge. Among those respondents named in the petition was the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). The trial court held a hearing, but TASB was not given notice and was not present. The trial court ultimately entered an order granting Cornish’s request for expunction of the arrest records. However, TASB later appealed the trial court order, arguing that the trial court did not comply with statutory procedures in granting the request for expunction with respect to TASB.
Ruling: The appeals court granted TASB’s appeal and returned the case to the trial court for further proceedings. Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a person who is entitled to expunction may either file an ex parte petition in the county where he was arrested or where the offense was alleged to have occurred.
A trial court must wait at least thirty days from the date of the petition to hold a hearing. Further, all agencies or other entities named in the petition must receive notice of the petition prior to the hearing. Here, the record showed that the trial court did not wait until thirty days following the Cornish’s petition to hold the expunction hearing. In addition, it was undisputed that TASB had not received notice of the petition prior to the hearing. The trial court’s failure to follow the statutory procedure for granting the petition for expunction, rendered its decision improper. The appeals court, therefore, reversed the trial court ruling and returned the case to the trial court for further proceedings.