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Instructions & Forms for Completing a Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records

These instructions explain the basic steps to ask a court to clear an arrest from your record (expunction). Each step includes a link to the form or forms needed for that step.

Use these instructions if:

  • charges were never filed and the statute of limitation is expired, or
  • charges were filed, but then dismissed or quashed and the statute of limitation is expired, or
  • charges were filed, but then dismissed or quashed (even if the statute of limitation has not expired) because one of the following is true:
  • because of mistake or false information or for a similar reason indicating the absence of probable cause that you committed the crime charged, or
  • because it was void, or
  • because you completed a pretrial intervention program authorized under Section 76.011 of the Texas Government Code

Do NOT use these instructions if:

  • you were pardoned, acquitted or released with a judge’s finding of actual innocence, or
  • charges were never filed and the statute of limitation has not expired, or
  • you have not been tried and the prosecutor recommends expunction, or
  • your case involves a “waiting period” and “discretionary expunctions” which require the prosecutor’s assistance and participation in the expunction petition, or
  • you have an error on your criminal history record because someone else used your name when he or she was arrested.

Have you read the Frequently Asked Questions? These instructions are part of this TexasLawHelp.org toolkit: I need to clear an arrest from my record (expunction). Before getting started, it’s important to read the Frequently Asked Questions included in the Toolkit.

WARNING! These basic instructions provide general information, not legal advice. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.

A lawyer is trained to protect your legal rights. Even if you decide to represent yourself, try to talk to a lawyer about your case before filing anything. You can hire a lawyer just to review your forms. This is called “limited scope representation.” You may also be able to talk with a lawyer for free at a legal clinic. If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:


You can print these instructions to use as a checklist
 

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Step 1: Meet the legal requirements.

You cannot ask the Court to expunge (clear) an arrest if:

  • you were convicted of any offense from your arrest, or
  • there are charges currently pending against you from your arrest, or
  • you were placed on court ordered supervision (probation) for the arrest (unless the offense charged was a class C misdemeanor), or
  • you were released on conditional discharge under the Controlled Substances Act, or
  • you jumped bail after your arrest.

What is the statute of limitation? When you are arrested, the prosecutor can only bring charges against you within a certain time period.

To use these instructions, if charges were brought against you the statute of limitation must have expired on all offenses arising from your arrest, unless your charges were dismissed because of one of the following “timing short-cuts”:

  1. your charges were dismissed or quashed because of mistake or false information or for a similar reason indicating the absence of probable cause that you committed the crime charged, or
  2. because it was void, or
  3. because you successfully completed a pretrial diversion program.

To use these instructions, if charges were never filed the statute of limitation must have expired on all offenses arising from your arrest.

Note: The statute of limitation for all misdemeanors is two years from the date of the alleged offense. The statute of limitation for felonies ranges from three years (minor theft cases) to an unlimited time (murder). To find the statute of limitation for the offense, read the law here: Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 12.01.  Sometimes a statute of limitation is “tolled.”  Tolled means a certain time period doesn’t count.  For example, time spent outside Texas does not count when calculating the statute of limitation period for most crimes. It’s a good idea to ask a lawyer to help you determine the statute of limitation for the offenses arising out of your arrest.

If you meet the legal requirements, use these instructions to ask for an expunction by filing a Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records (called an expunction for short). 

Step 2: Order copies of your criminal history record and order(s) of dismissal.

To have the information you need to fill out the Petition and ask for an expunction, you will need to order:

  • Your criminal history record from the Texas Department of Public Safety.  Find out how to get your criminal history record here: www.txdps.state.tx.us/internetforms/Forms/CR-63.pdf.
  • A certified copy of the order dismissing the charge if one was filed against you.  Get it from the clerk’s office of the court that dismissed your case.  If more than one charge was filed against you, you will need a copy of the order dismissing each charge.  
Step 3: Fill out court forms.

Fill out the following starting forms:

Choose the appropriate Petition for your case.

Use this form if charges were filed against you, your charges were dismissed or quashed, and the statute of limitation has expired, or even if the statute of limitation has not expired, one of the “timing short-cuts” applies:

Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records (Charges Dismissed or Quashed)

  • Fill out this form completely in blue or black ink. (Note: This Petition form may also be used to request expunction of additional arrests, including an arrest where no charges from the arrest were filed against you and the statute of limitation has expired.)

 – or

Use this form if charges were never filed against you, and the statute of limitation has expired:

Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records (Charges not Filed)

  • Fill out this form completely in blue or black ink. (Note: This Petition form may also be used to request expunction of additional arrests, if no charges were filed against you and the statute of limitation has expired. DO NOT use this form if any charges were filed for any arrests, including additional arrests you want expunged.)

Fill out the Petition according to the following instructions. The following instructions apply to both Petition forms in this toolkit:

  1. Information about Petitioner

  • You are the “Petitioner.”  Fill in the requested information.  List any aliases and/or variations of your information (including incorrect variations of your information) in your arrest records that you are aware of. Do not leave any blanks.
  1. Information about Petitioner’s Arrest #1 

  • Note: Only include information about one arrest in this section.  You will be asked about other arrests in section 4 of this Petition.
    • Print the date of your arrest.  It is important to check your criminal history record to make sure you have the right date.  For example, you may think you were arrested late at night but you were really arrested the next morning.
    • Print the name of the law enforcement agency that arrested you.  This is usually a police department or sheriff’s office. Do not name the individual officer that arrested you.
    • Print the name of the city, county and state where you were arrested.  If you were not arrested within city limits, write N/A over city.
    • Print your address at the time of this arrest.  This may be different from your current address.
    • Print your Department of Public Safety (DPS) tracking incident number for this arrest.  This number can be found on your copy of your criminal history record.  
  1. Information about Charge or Charges Arising out of Arrest #1

  • You MUST give complete information about all charges arising out of Arrest #1. 
    • For each offense charged (or not filed), print the name of the offense and the following information:
      • A. Print the cause number that was originally assigned to this charge.
        • Note: If charges were never brought against you, the Petition form has (N/A case not filed) in this section. Go to the next step, b.
        • Check the box indicating the Court in which the charge was originally filed. List the exact number or name of the court. (For example, 345th District Court Travis County, Texas; County Court # 2 Bexar County, Texas; Municipal Court of Houston Texas; or Justice Court Precinct 4 Dallas County, Texas.)
        • Note: It is possible that the official charges related to your arrest started in one court and were assigned a cause number, but later transferred to another court and were assigned a different cause number.  If so, you need to list the information about all courts and cause numbers that were assigned to your case. (See step e. for the information you will provide about the court finally dismissing the charge.)
      • B. Print the date that offense allegedly occurred.  It is important to check your criminal history record to make sure you have the right date.
      • C. Print the number of years for the statute of limitation that applies to the offense.
        • Note: See the information in “What is the statute of limitation?” in step 1 of these instructions, above. If you have questions on what statute of limitation applies to the offense, it’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer.
      • D.
        • (D-1) If you are filling out the Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records (Charges not Filed) form, the statute of limitation for this offense must have passed before you file the Petition. By filling out this form, you are confirming that the statute of limitation has passed (stop here for the first offense and continue filling out the information requested for up to four offenses related to arrest #1. If there were no other offenses charged (not filed), print “N/A” in the blank for the name of the offense); or
        • (D-2) If you are filling out the Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records (Charges Dismissed or Quashed) form, complete the following steps:
          • Check this box if the statute of limitation has passed for this offense before the filing of this Petition, or
          • Check this box and the below box that applies to your case (even if the statute of limitation has not passed) if the charge was dismissed or quashed because one of the following is true:
            • because of mistake or false information or for a similar reason indicating the absence of probable cause that you had committed the crime charged, or
            • because it was void, or
            • because you completed a pretrial intervention program authorized under 76.011 of the Texas Government Code.
        • Note: It is possible that both the statute of limitation has passed and that the charges were dismissed or quashed because of one of the above reasons. Check all applicable boxes that apply to the offense.

      • E. If the charge was dismissed by the same court, check box e(1) and skip to f.

        • Note: If the charge was transferred and dismissed by a different court, check box e(2) and print the new cause number. Then, check the box indicating the Court that dismissed the charge.  Fill in the exact number or name of the court.

      • F. Print the date the charge was dismissed. It is important to check the order of dismissal to make sure you have the right date.

      • G. Attach a copy of the order of dismissal to the Petition.

        • If there were additional offenses from the same arrest, print the name of the offense and the information requested. This form provides space for up to four offenses related to arrest #1. If there were no other offenses charged, print “N/A” in the blank for the name of the offense.

  1. Information about Petitioner’s other Arrests

If you are asking the Court to expunge only one arrest, skip section 4 and go to section 5.

You might have multiple arrests (on different dates involving different offenses) and you want to ask the Court to expunge all the arrests without having to file separate petitions.  If you want to ask the Court to expunge more than one arrest, check the box under section 4 and write in the number of additional arrests you are asking the court to expunge.  

Tip: At the top of each page of your first Additional Arrest Exhibit fill in the letter “A.”  At the top of each page of your second Additional Arrest Exhibit fill in the letter “B”. Continue labeling each Exhibit with a letter at the top of each page (also label each Order(s) of dismissal). This will help to keep your court papers organized for the judge.

Note: The information requested regarding each additional arrest is the same as requested for Arrest #1 in the Petition.  Fill out the relevant agencies with records of your arrest and the public entities as described in Items 6 and 7 below.

 

  1. Petitioner is Entitled to an Order of Expunction for Arrest (and Other Arrests)

Read statements a through g. Each statement MUST be true. If not, you cannot use this form to ask the court to expunge your arrest record. 

Note regarding 5d: “Deferred prosecution” and “pretrial intervention” are not the same as “deferred adjudication.”  You cannot expunge your arrest record if you received deferred adjudication probation on any cases other than Class C Misdemeanors.  However, you may qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure.  For more information and for forms for Orders of Nondisclosure, read the TexasLawHelp.org toolkit: I need an order of nondisclosure.

  1. Agencies with Records of My Arrest #1

You MUST list the law enforcement agencies involved in each arrest (including any additional arrests you have listed in Additional Arrest Exhibits) and any other official or agency that may have a record or file of your arrest or arrests. Include jails or other detention facilities, magistrates, courts, prosecuting attorneys, correctional facilities, probation and/or court related counseling offices, central state depositories of criminal records, central federal depositories of criminal records.  Also include any private entities that sell criminal history record information that you have reason to believe have information related to your arrest or arrests.  If an employer or a former employer ran a background check, list the employer.  If you applied for a license, list the licensing agency.  If you receive public benefits, list that state or federal agency.

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  If you forget to list an agency, that agency may not have to destroy your arrest records. Talk with a lawyer if you have questions.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is listed for you, and it will provide notice to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Crime Information Center, Texas Crime Information Center, the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management, the State Operations Center/Preparedness Section, the Texas Fusion Center and any entity that purchases Department of Public Safety records.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Community Justice Assistance Division has been listed for you.

If your case is in Travis County, check the box for the Travis County Information Technology Services.  If your case is from another county, do not check the box.

Any Law Enforcement Agency Involved in the Arrest

In many cases, there will be only one law enforcement agency. List each law enforcement agency involved in your arrest.  Write the name and address of the arresting agency in the space provided.

Any Jail where I was Taken

List all jails where you were taken in the space provided.

Prosecutor’s Office Handling My Case

List the prosecutor’s office involved in your case, if any, in the space provided.

Court in which the Complaint was Filed

If a complaint was filed in your case, list the court in which it was filed. Misdemeanor complaints may be filed in Municipal Court, Community Court or any Justice of the Peace Precinct. List the name and address of the court in the space provided.

Clerk’s Office where my Case was Filed/Prosecuted

If a case was filed against you, include the appropriate City, County or District Clerk. List the name and address of the clerk’s office where your case was filed/prosecuted, if any, in the space provided.

Jail Release

If you were released on a personal or cash deposit bond, or if you were interviewed for a personal bond, you may want to include the pretrial services office, if any, involved in this process. List the pretrial services office in the space provided.

Successful Completion of Pretrial Diversion

If you completed a Travis County pretrial diversion program, select the box.  If your pretrial diversion program is from another county, include it in the space provided. If you did not participate in a pretrial diversion program, leave this blank.

Counseling and Education Services

If you completed a substance abuse evaluation or other services in Travis County, check the box.  If you received these services through a different county program, include it in the space provided. If you did not participate in this type of program, leave this blank.

Additional Agencies

List any other officials, agencies, and other public entities that may have records of your arrest.

  1. Private Entities with Records of My Arrest(s)

Certain private entities purchase arrest records.  These agencies should be ordered to expunge your arrest, and a list of these entities should be attached to your Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records. (If you need advice or aren’t sure whether you should include this list, talk with a lawyer.)

  1. Request for Relief

The request for relief is a list of what you are asking the Court to Order. 

Sign your name and fill in the remaining information.

  1. Sign the Unsworn Declaration under penalty of perjury

  • Print the information requested and sign your name. 
    • IMPORTANT!  By signing the Unsworn Declaration, you are stating under penalty of perjury that everything in the Petition and any attached Exhibits is true and correct.  This means that you could be criminally prosecuted for lying on these forms.
      • Choose the appropriate Additional Arrest Exhibit for your case and attach it to your Petition.
        • Additional Arrest Exhibit (Charges Dismissed or Quashed) (if applicable).
        • Additional Arrest Exhibit (Charges not Filed) (if applicable)
      • Fill out the appropriate Exhibit completely in blue or black ink if you have other arrests you want the court to expunge. Fill out an Exhibit for each additional arrest you want the court to expunge.
      • Fill out this additional starting form if you cannot afford to pay the filing fee for your case. Call the district clerk’s office in the same county where you were arrested or where the offense(s) allegedly occurred to learn the filing fee for your case. Learn more here: Court Fees and Fee Waivers.
  1. Make copies for yourself and for the state prosecutor.

  • Make 2 copies of your completed Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records and Exhibits.
  • Make 2 copies of the Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Courts if you are asking the court to waive court costs.
  1. Fill out one of the following ending forms:

Step 4: Have your forms reviewed (if possible).
Important: These basic instructions are not a substitute for the legal advice and counsel of a lawyer. A lawyer is trained to protect your legal rights. Even if you decide to represent yourself, try to talk to a lawyer about your case before filing anything. You can hire a lawyer just to review your forms. This is called “limited scope representation.” You may also be able to talk with a lawyer for free at a legal clinic. If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:
 
Step 5: File (turn-in) your Petition.

File (turn-in) your completed Petition and additional starting forms.

  • To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions.
  • To file your forms in person, turn in your Petition and additional starting forms (and copies) to the district clerk’s office in the same county where you were arrested or where the offense(s) allegedly occurred.

At the clerk’s office:

Step 6: Send a file-stamped copy of the Petition to the state prosecutor.

Send a file-stamped copy of the Petition to the state prosecutor (the City, County or District Attorney). Send it by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Keep the receipt to prove that you sent the Petition to the state prosecutor. You must bring proof to your hearing. 

Step 7. Schedule a hearing.

Ask the clerk how to schedule a hearing for your case.

  • The clerk will give you a hearing date when you file your Petition or will send you a notice with the date, time, and location of your hearing.
  • The hearing will be at least 30 days after you file your Petition.
  • The court will also give each official or agency or other governmental entity named in your Petition notice of the hearing by:
    • (1) certified mail, return receipt requested; or
    • (2) secure electronic mail, electronic transmission, or facsimile transmission.
Step 8: Go to the hearing.

Read the article: Tips for the Courtroom for more information about going to Court.

Bring the following with you to court:

  • Proof that you sent the Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records and Additional Arrest Exhibit (if applicable) to the state prosecutor (the City, County or District Attorney).
  • The Order Directing Expunction of Criminal Records for the judge to sign.
  • If you were charged and your charges were dismissed, you should also bring copies of the dismissals with you to court.

When you get to the courthouse, go to the clerk’s office.

  • Ask the clerk if you need the court file or docket sheet (list of what has been filed in your case) and give the clerk your paperwork.
  • Sit down until the judge calls your case.
  • When the judge calls your case, walk to the front of the courtroom and stand in front of the judge’s bench. The judge will have you raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth.
  • Be ready to explain to the judge why you are eligible to have the criminal records expunged.

If the judge agrees to clear the arrest from your record, the judge will sign the Order

Step 9: File (turn-in) the signed Order with the clerk.

After the judge signs the Order, take the signed Order back to the court clerk’s office.

  • File (turn-in) the signed Order Directing Expunction of Criminal Records. Your case is NOT final until you do so.
  • Get certified copies of your Order signed by the judge from the clerk while you are there. The clerk may charge a fee for the certified copies. 
  • Ask the clerk to send a certified copy of the signed Order to the agencies, governmental entities and any other parties listed on the Order. The Order tells everyone listed in the Order to return or destroy all records about the arrest(s).
  • Keep a copy of the signed Order for your records.