New Case-Texas Class C Expunctions
David Finn: This decision is bad news. Hopefully the legislature will change this so Clients do not have to wait for the statute of limitations to expire in order to get an expunction once a Class C case has been resolved via deferred adjudication. The statute needs to be amended.
It makes absolutely no sense that a person has to wait for the statute of limitations to run/expire to get an expunction when the person already successfully completed a term of deferred adjudication. Why? Because they can’t be subsequently prosecuted for the same offense- it would violate the double jeopardy clause of the Texas and United States constitutions.
Holding: A petitioner for expunction of a misdemeanor arrest record must wait for the expiration of the limitations period to seek expunction.
State of Texas v. Judy Beam, Texas Supreme Court, 06-0974, 6-1-2007.
FACTS: On June 20, 2005, authorities arrested Judy Beam and charged her with a misdemeanor offense. Pursuant to a plea agreement, authorities later dismissed the charge and granted her deferred adjudication on the lesser charge of disorderly conduct.
On Feb. 16, 2006, less than two years later, Beam filed a petition for expunction pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 55.01. The state contended that Beam was not entitled to expunction until two years after the date on which she allegedly committed the misdemeanor offense, because under Art. 12.02, the state has a two-year limitations period during which it may present an indictment or information. Therefore, according to the state, Beam cannot seek expunction before the two-year limitations period has expired on June 20,2007.
The trial court granted Beam’s petition for expunction, and the state appealed. The 7th Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment, holding that paragraph (a)(2)(A) of Art. 55.01 does not apply “when the sought expunction involves a misdemeanor offense.”
HOLDING: Reversed and rendered.
Beam sought expunction pursuant to Art. 55.01(a)(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides in relevant part that: “A person who has been placed under a custodial or non-custodial arrest for commission of either a felony or misdemeanor is entitled to have all records and files relating to the arrest expunged if…an indictment or information charging the person with commission of a felony was presented, the indictment or information has been dismissed or quashed, and … the limitations period expired before the date on which a petition for expunction was filed under Article 55.02.”
Beam argued that, because the preceding paragraph limits its reach to felonies, the limitations requirement is also limited. The state disagreed, contending that the plain language of the statute required the expiration of limitations for both felonies and misdemeanors before expunction may be sought. The court agreed with the state.
Before 2001, the court stated, Art. 55.01(1)applied only to felonies, and there was no requirement that the limitations period expire before expunction could be sought. In 2001, however, the Legislature amended Art. 55.01(a) to provide that the limitations period for the underlying offense must expire before a petition for expunction may be filed.
The state asserted that the Legislature added this requirement so that courts would not order expungement of all records and files relating to a person’s arrest if that person were still subject to prosecution for a crime arising out of the transaction for which the person was arrested.
The state argued the Art. 55.01(a)’s recent amendment supported the view the limitations requirement of Article 55.01(a)(2)(A)(i) applied to both felonies and misdemeanors. Thus, the court agreed with the state, disagreed with the 7th Court and held that the limitations requirement in Art. 55.01(a)(2)(A)(i) applied to both felonies and misdemeanors.
The court also stated that to the extent that some courts of appeals held otherwise, it disapproved those decisions.
In this case, the court stated, authorities arrested Beam and charged her with a misdemeanor offense, but they dismissed the charge pursuant to a plea agreement, and she received deferred adjudication on a lesser charge. Beam sought expunction pursuant to paragraph (a)(2). No felony indictment or information has yet been presented against Beam, the court stated, but the limitations period for the underlying offense has not expired. Therefore, Beam does not satisfy the requirements for filing an expunction petition under Art. 55.01(a)(2).
Even though, the court stated, “Beam was arrested for a misdemeanor offense, she must wait until the two-year limitation period expires on June 20, 2007, before she may seek expunction – assuming she meets article 55.01’s remaining requirements, a question we do not reach.”
OPINION: Jefferson, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court.
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