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DA launches Expunction 2022 to help clear records

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The Office of Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis is launching the Expunction 2022 Initiative today with the support of the NAACP (Collin County Branch), Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Collin County Bar Association, Plano Bar Association, and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

Expunction 2022 helps the Collin County community by providing free legal assistance to people who, by law, may be eligible to have their criminal record erased. "We are thrilled to help people erase their criminal record and clear a path to more opportunity for them. Whether they're seeking employment, education, housing, or military service, this initiative will help qualifying individuals do just that," District Attorney Willis said.

The 2021 expunction initiative -- the first for Collin County -- was very successful because of the supporting bar associations and the 46 volunteer attorneys. Sixty percent of all the expunction applicants were found to be eligible. Those applicants were then paired with an attorney who volunteered their time to help the applicants with filling out and filing the necessary legal documents. Ninety-nine percent of those applicants had their charges expunged. Each assisted individual saved approximately $1,800 in legal fees and costs.

Among the 132 people who got their records expunged last year was a 46-year-old Hispanic woman from Plano. Working with a private volunteer attorney, she got a felony charge from 1995 expunged. She was 19 at the time. The charge was dismissed shortly after her arrest but remained on her record. Not only that, but her volunteer attorney also helped her get her filing and court fees waived since she couldn't afford them.

Law enforcement is strongly supportive as well. Major city police chiefs from Plano (Ed Drain), McKinney (Greg Conley), Frisco (David Shilson), and Allen (Brian Harvey), declared their joint statement of support:

"We strongly support the Collin County District Attorney's Expunction Initiative 2022. Removing unnecessary limitations of a criminal record helps people thrive in our respective communities and strengthens our ability to protect and serve."

How to Participate in the Expunction 2022 Initiative:

·         Individuals who believe they are eligible for an expunction can go to between March 31 and April 30 to complete a Screening Survey.

·         Individuals who MAY have an offense eligible for an expunction will be notified via email by May 31 and will be paired with a volunteer attorney.

For additional information, individuals may call (972) 548-4479 and leave a voicemail with their name, number, and a question.

Per Texas statute, individuals who have offenses on their criminal record MAY qualify for an expunction if any of the following apply:

·         They were arrested, but a charge was never filed or was no-billed by the grand jury;

·         They have a criminal charge that was dismissed without any type of community supervision or probation prior to dismissal (except for Class C offenses);

·         They have a criminal charge that was dismissed because they successfully completed a formal Pretrial Diversion Program;

·         They were acquitted on their charge by a judge or jury (usually by a finding of "Not Guilty"), 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.

An individual is not eligible for an expunction in Collin County if:

·         Their case was not in Collin County;

·         Their case is still pending;

·         They were convicted in the case they want expunged, even if they just paid a fine (convictions on other cases do not prevent expunction, unless they are from the same arrest);

·         They were placed on probation, community supervision, or deferred adjudication for any felony or Class A or B misdemeanor they want expunged, even if their case was later dismissed (Class C deferred adjudication is the only exception); or

·         They were convicted or received any kind of probation on another offense arising from the same arrest.

Please help those in need by spreading the word about the Expunction 2022 Initiative.