Travis County planning ‘Expunction Expo’ to help people clear their names

Travis County

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis County officials want to help people clear their names and records, so they are holding an “Expunction Expo” in 2020.

Expunction is a legal process where arrests or charges are removed from your criminal record.

The District Clerk’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and the County Attorney’s Office are teaming up to hold the first-ever event in Travis County.

“It affects their employment. It affects housing. It affects some kinds of public assistance. We know it is an onerous burden for some folks, and there are people who have not been able to afford the lawyer’s fees to get this done,” Travis Co. District Attorney Margaret Moore said. “We are reaching out to them and saying, ‘We are going to provide this service.'”

At the Expo, attorneys will be on-hand to represent applicants for free. Lawyers with Capital Area Private Defender Services, Austin Young Lawyers Association, and Volunteer Legal Services will be donating their legal expertise.

According to a press release, Travis County District Clerk Velva Price said, “This great collaborative effort will extend the ability of our community to provide supportive and accessible ways for individuals to remove obstacles that prevent people from living their lives to the fullest potential.”

There are certain qualifications you will have to meet to be considered for the event. According to Texas law, to qualify for an expunction you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You were arrested but a charge was never filed or was no billed by the grand jury
  • You have a criminal charge that was dismissed
  • You successfully completed a diversion program, such as Pretrial Diversion, Drug Court, etc.,
  • You were acquitted on your charge by a judge or jury (usually by a finding of “Not Guilty”) or appellate court
  • You were convicted of a crime, but later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States

The Travis County 2020 Expunction Expo will be held Feb. 29 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The deadline to apply is Feb. 25.

How did Dallas County do it?

Travis County officials said they are modeling their event after a similar one held in Dallas County for the last three years.

In 2019, the Dallas County District Attorney’s office reported 1,281 applicants, the highest number since they began hosting the expo in 2017. 577 of those applicants met the requirements and were invited to attend. After the September 2019 event, the D.A.’s office reported 330 people were granted an expunction.

“We are elated to see so many people seizing the opportunity to clear their criminal records,” Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot said in a press release. “We are honored to help clear the path to a better life for these individuals.”

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