Dallas County is wrapping up it’s fifth annual Expunction Expo, which has been responsible for clearing criminal records in 1,800 cases since its inception.
This year, about 800 people will be granted expunctions for certain criminal offenses on their records. The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and Dallas County District Clerk’s Office partner for the event every year. The goal is to provide as many qualified individuals with the chance to clear their criminal records, which ultimately makes it easier for them to obtain housing, land a job and get an education.
“Without the impediment of the expunged offense on their record, they are placed in an optimal position to positively contribute to society, support their family and community and most importantly avoid future incarceration,” the DA’s office said in a press release.
Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, the city of Dallas, the UNT Dallas College of Law, the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law Texas Offender Reentry Initiative (T.O.R.I.), and several others also work with the county to make the yearly expo happen.
People who make it into the program get help from volunteer lawyers at no cost. Expunction fees usually cost about $600. Then, there are other legal fees that can top $3,000. Even if you’ve never had charges brought against you, an arrest will still show up on a background check without an expunction.
But there are conditions to this new clean slate. You would need to have been arrested but not charged, or a grand jury would have needed to "no bill" the charges to be eligible for the expo. If the charges were dismissed without community supervision or probation, the offense could be expunged. However, this doesn't apply to Class C offenses. An acquittal may also leave you eligible for the program.
Lastly, you can also get an offense expunged if the Texas governor or the U.S. president has pardoned you.
As District Attorney John Creuzot and District Clerk Felicia Pitre push reform of the criminal justice system, they hope the expo program will continue gaining momentum.
“While this expo is an excellent initiative in furthering our goal of criminal justice reform, its effects on those we are able to help every year is the ultimate reward for my administration,” Creuzot said in a press release.
“It is our hope that those who benefit from the expo will have greater access to employment, education and housing to improve their lives and the lives of their families.”
On Dec. 4, Creuzot, Pitre and several others will congratulate those who made it through the program during a ceremony at the Concord Baptist Church in Dallas.