Expunction Expo Offers Chance at Better Life

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office, and the Dallas County District Clerk’s Office will be hosting their third annual Expunction Expo in September.

“We want to help people who qualify for an expunction get a fresh start, so they can become productive and contributing members of society,” John Creuzot, criminal district attorney, said. “Many people may not be able to obtain gainful employment, attend college or serve in the military because of something on their record that can be eliminated. This is an opportunity for them to change their lives for the better.”

The expo has helped clear over 400 criminal records in Dallas County since 2017. The expunction process is done outside of the courthouse for a reason, according to Creuzot.

“Let’s be honest, people don’t come to the courthouse with a relaxed feeling,” Creuzot said. “If you’re charged with a crime, there’s a certain amount of understandable anxiety that you’ll have, even if [a case] came out in your favor. Coming back into the courthouse brings back memories from all that anxiety. It’s offsite, so they don’t have to come to the courthouse to get this done.”

Felicia Petri, the Dallas County district clerk, said she and her staff are “extremely excited” to be part of the expo.

“It’s not something we have to do, it’s something that Dallas County has chosen to do,” Petri said. “We’re leaders and trailblazers. I’m excited to be a part of changing lives in Dallas, Texas.”

“It’s not only exciting but personally and professionally gratifying to see an office that takes this kind of program seriously,” Lynn Richardson, chief public defender, said. “They know the law, and they’ve done the research. I can’t say enough about our district attorney taking the lead on this.”

Richardson said many people think criminal records are the end of their lives, but an expunction can transform lives for the better.

“There are so many people who are uneducated whenever they get in trouble and make a mistake,” Richardson said. “You think your life is over once you have a criminal record. We’re encouraging those people to take advantage of this. The district attorney’s office has done an incredible job of saying to people ahead of time ‘look, this is being made available to you, and it’s so important you take advantage of it.’”

Individuals who have offenses on their criminal record may qualify if: they were arrested but a charge was never filed with the district attorney’s office or was no billed by the grand jury; their criminal charge was dismissed; they were acquitted on a charge by a judge, jury, or appellate court, or; they were convicted of a crime but later pardoned by the governor of Texas or the President of the United States.
Individuals are not eligible for the expunction if their case is still pending or if they were convicted, placed on probation, community supervision, or deferred adjudication, even if the case was dismissed. 

The expunction eligibility is only available to Dallas County residents.

Anyone who believes they are eligible must pre-register by July 28 at www.dallascounty.org/expunction or in person at the Frank Crowley Courthouse Clerk’s Office.

If the individual has any offenses that may be eligible for expunction, they will be contacted and invited to meet with a volunteer attorney at the Pre-Qualification Clinic on Saturday, Sept. 14. Those granted expunctions will be invited to a graduation ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The Expunction Expo is convened in partnership with local volunteer attorneys, as well as students from the University of North Texas (UNT) Dallas College of Law and the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dedman School of Law. Dallas County District Judges and the Dallas City Attorney Community Courts are also vital partners in this endeavor. This year’s Expo is at Jubilee Park Community Center, 907 Bank Street, Dallas.

For additional information, call 214-653-2905.

Written by Kayla Henson