On Thursday, Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced a new Expuncture 2022 initiative that provides free legal assistance to eligible individuals who wish to have their criminal records expunged.
The program is supported by the Collin County Branch of the NAACP, Northwest Texas Legal Aid, Collin County Bar Association, Plano Bar Association, and Lawyers Association of Collin County Criminal Defense.
“We’re excited to help people clear their criminal records and pave the way for more opportunities for them,” Willis said. “Whether they’re looking for a job, an education, housing or military service, this initiative will help qualified people do just that.”
The free program is the first of its kind in Collin County and includes 46 volunteer attorneys who will be matched with eligible applicants.
Officials say 60% of all eviction applicants were found eligible and 99% had their charges dropped, saving them about $1,800 in legal fees per person.
Prior to the launch, officials were able to help a Plano woman who was charged with a felony in 1995 when she was 19.
Although the charge was dismissed, it remained in her case, but with the help of a pro bono lawyer, she was able to get her case and the court costs waived as she could not pay them.
Big City Police Chiefs Ed Drain of Plano, Greg Conley of McKinney, David Shilson of Frisco and Brian Harvey of Allen issued their joint statement of support saying “We strongly support the District Attorney’s exponent initiative. Collin County 2022. Removing unnecessary limitations from a criminal record helps people thrive in our respective communities and strengthens our ability to protect and serve.”
According to Texas law, people who have offenses on their criminal record may be eligible for expungement if any of the following conditions apply:
- They were arrested, but no charges were filed or charged by the grand jury
- They have a criminal charge that was dismissed without any type of community supervision or probation prior to the dismissal (except for class C offenses)
- They have a criminal charge that was dismissed because they successfully completed a formal pre-trial diversion program.
- They were acquitted of their charge by a judge or jury (usually by a verdict of “not guilty”) or a court of appeal; Where
- 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 exposure in Collin County if:
- Their case wasn’t in Collin County
- Their case is still pending.
- They have been convicted in the case they want to be expunged, even if they have just paid a fine (convictions in other cases do not prevent expungement unless they are from the same arrest)
- They have been placed on probation, community supervision, or pending trial for any Class A or B felony or misdemeanor they wish to have expunged, even if their case has subsequently been dismissed (Class C pending judgment is the only exception)
- They have been convicted or received some form of probation for another offense stemming from the same arrest.
For more information about the program and where to apply, visit www.collincountyda.com/exponction2022/.