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

Use these instructions to fill out a Petition to clear your criminal record when:

If you fill out this form by hand, be sure to use only blue of black ink.

These materials are intended for general use throughout Texas. However, keep in mind that every county has different procedures. Always follow the court clerk's instructions.

Checklist Steps

You are the Petitioner. Fill in the requested information. List all of your names that appear in your criminal record, including any aliases or incorrect variations. Do not skip any information.

Only give information about one arrest in this section. (You will be able to enter other arrests in Section #4 if needed.)

  • Enter the date of your arrest. Check your criminal history record to make sure you have the right date. For example, you may think the arrest was late at night but it was really the next morning.
  • Enter 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 who arrested you.
  • Enter the name of the city and county where you were arrested. If you were not arrested within city limits, write N/A over city.
  • Enter your address at the time of this arrest. This may be different from your current address. If you do not remember, put "Unknown."
  • Enter the Department of Public Safety (DPS) tracking incident number (TRN) for this arrest. You can find this number in your DPS report. A TRN is assigned to each arrest. You can find the TRN in the Event Cycle section. These sections are labeled "Event Cycle 1," Event Cycle 2," etc. Only check the "No TRN assigned" box if you are sure there is no TRN.

You must give complete information about all charges arising out of Arrest #1. 

For each charge, print the name of the offense and the following information:

A. Print the case or cause number that was originally assigned to this charge.

Enter the case number assigned to your case.

B. Enter the name of the court assigned to this charge.

Check the box indicating the Court in which the charge was originally filed. List the exact number or name of the court.

Some examples of court names:

  • 345th District Court Travis County, Texas
  • County Court # 2 Bexar County, Texas
  • Municipal Court of Houston Texas
  • Justice Court Precinct 4 Dallas County, Texas

Note: Transfers - More than one court may have dealt with your case. If so, list both courts and treat each instance as a separate charge. For courts that transferred your case, use the transfer date as the dismissal date.

Note: Reduced charges - The court may have changed or reduced your charges. If so, enter the old and new charge separately. Enter the date the court changed the charge as the old charge's dismissal date.

C. Enter the date that offense allegedly occurred.

Check your criminal history record to make sure you have the right date.

D. Enter the number of years for the statute of limitation that applies to the offense.

See Statutes of Limitation for Crimes. If you have questions on what statute of limitation applies to the offense, it’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer.

E-1. Check this box if the statute of limitation has passed for this offense before the filing of this Petition. To be sure that the statute of limitations has passed, start counting at the time of dismissal. Then subtract the time between the date of the alleged crime and the initial charges, if known.

E-2. 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.

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, enter N/A in the blank for the name of the offense.

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. You may use this one petition to expunge all charges so long as all the arrests were in the same county, all of the charges were quashed or dismissed, and all charges also qualify for expunction. To expunge more than one arrest, check the box under Section #4 and enter the number of other arrests you want the court to expunge.

Labeling Exhibits: At the top of each page of your first Additional Arrest Exhibit, print the letter “A.” At the top of each page of your second Additional Arrest Exhibit, print the letter “B.” Continue labeling each Exhibit with a letter at the top of each page. Also label each Order of Dismissal. This will help to keep your court papers organized for the judge.

Note: Use the instructions for Sections #3, #6, and #7 of the Petition to fill out any Additional Arrest Exhibits.

Read each statement. All the statements must be true. If any are untrue, you cannot use this form. However, you may still qualify for an Order of Nondisclosure.  For more information and for forms for Orders of Nondisclosure, read How to ask for a nondisclosure order.

You must list all 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 of your arrests. Examples Include:

  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Community Justice Assistance Division
  • Office of Court Administration - E-File Division
  • The law enforcement office that arrested you
  • The sheriff's office of any county where you were in jail
  • Prosecuting Agency - (County Attorney, District Attorney, contract prosecutors as applicable)
  • Clerk of any court involved in your case, other than the one where you file your petition
  • Magistrate that oversaw your arraignment
  • Any agency or individual who issued a warrant, such as a constable if a bond was forfeited
  • Personal Bond/Pretrial Services Office if the case involved a personal bond
  • City or County Counseling Services
  • Treasurer of the county or municipality where your case was heard
  • School administration, if your offense involved campus police
  • Probation offices
  • Community service coordinators
  • Tobacco Alcoholic Beverage Commission if an ID or alcohol-related crime
  • State Office of Administrative Hearings for DWIs
  • Community Supervision and Corrections if you had pretrial diversion 
  • The information technology or record-keeping departments for any of these agencies.
  • If you reported the arrest to a licensing agency, list the licensing agency.
  • If you were denied public benefits based on the offense you want to expunge, list that state or federal agency.

This is very important. If you forget to list an entity, that entity may not have to destroy your arrest records. Here is a partial list with examples of entities, listed by county. 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 InvestigationNational Crime Information CenterTexas 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 also 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, address, and email (if known) 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. Include an email for each.

Prosecutor’s Office Handling My Case

List the prosecutor’s office involved in your case, if any, in the space provided. Include an email for each.

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, address, and email for each 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, address, and email of the clerk’s office where your case was filed/prosecuted, if any, in the space provided.

Jail Release

If you posted or even interviewed for a personal or cash deposit bond, include the pretrial services office, if any, involved in this process. List the pretrial services office in the space provided. Include an email for each. If your office was the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Travis County, check the box instead. Do not list a private bail bond company.

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. Include an email for each. 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's program, include it in the space provided. Include an email for each. 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. Include an email for each.

Some private entities, such as background check companies, purchase arrest records. Attach a list of any entities that you know are publishing or selling your information. Do not list these private entities alongside the state agencies. Attach them as a separate list.

You may use this Private Entity List form. You must have an email or fax for each entity. Note that news organizations do not have to remove your records. 

If you need advice or aren’t sure whether you should include this list, talk with a lawyer.

The request for relief is a list of what you are asking the court to order. You do not need to add any additional requests. 

Sign your name and fill in the remaining contact information.

Enter the information requested and sign your name.

Very Important: By signing the Declaration, you are stating under penalty of perjury that everything in the Petition and any attachments is true. This means that lying on these forms is a crime.

Fill out an Additional Arrest Exhibit for each additional arrest you want the court to expunge.

For additional arrests that did not result in charges, use Additional Arrest Exhibit (Charges Not Filed).

For additional arrests where all charges were dismissed or quashed, use Additional Arrest Exhibit (Charges Dismissed or Quashed)

Remember that you can use the instructions for Sections #3, #6, and #7 of the Petition to fill out any Additional Arrest Exhibits.

Remember to Label Exhibits: At the top of each page of your first Additional Arrest Exhibit, print the letter “A.” At the top of each page of your second Additional Arrest Exhibit, print the letter “B”. Continue labeling each Exhibit with a letter at the top of each page. Also label each Order of Dismissal. This will help to keep your court papers organized for the judge.

Call the district court clerk’s office to learn how much it costs to file. If you cannot afford it, fill out Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs. File this form with your Petition

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:

If filing in person, call the court clerk and ask how many copies you need to bring. Always make at least one set of copies for your records. Have the court clerk stamp all copies. The court clerk will keep the originals.

Fee waivers: Though the court is supposed to pay for copies if you have a fee waiver, not all courts honor this rule. Ask about the court's copies policy for fee waiver cases. Be polite. It may be less expensive to bring your own copies for stamping than to ask the court to print your copies.

File (turn-in) your completed Petition, any attached exhibits, and fee waiver if applicable.

  • To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions. Select the district court in either the county where you were arrested or where the offense(s) allegedly occurred.
  • To file your forms in person, turn in your Petition and attached documents to the district clerk’s office in the same county where you were arrested or where the offense(s) allegedly occurred. Call ahead and ask how many copies the clerk needs. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
  • You can also call the clerk to ask them if you can mail the filings.

At the clerk’s office:

  • Turn in your Petition and other starting forms (and copies).
  • Pay the filing fee (or file your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you cannot afford the fee). You can call the clerk’s office ahead of time to learn the filing fee for your case.
  • The clerk will give you a Cause Number and Court Number when you file.
  • The clerk will stamp your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and return your copies to you. Some clerks may want additional copies for their files and to send notice to parties.

Ask the clerk how to schedule a hearing for your case. Also ask if you need to physically or virtually attend the hearing.

  • The clerk may give you a hearing date when you file your Petition, or may send you a notice with the date, time, and location of your hearing. Alternatively, the clerk may require you to contact the court directly to set the hearing with the court coordinator.
  • The hearing will be at least 30 days after you file your Petition.
  • File a Notice of Hearing. The court will give each official or agency or other governmental entity named in your Petition the notice.

Use this form if you are asking to expunge only one arrest or multiple arrests for which all charges were dismissed or quashed:

Order Granting Expunction of Criminal Records (Charges Dismissed or Quashed)

Use this form if you are asking to expunge more than one arrest, all of which were either dismissed or quashed or did not result in charges:

Order Granting Expunction of Criminal Records (Charges Dismissed or Quashed and Additional Arrests with Charges not Filed)

You will ask the judge to sign the Order on the hearing date. Fill it out completely (except for the judge’s signature). After the judge signs, bring it to the court clerk.

Contact the court and ask if you need to be physically present.

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

Bring the following with you to court:

  • 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 courtroom.

  • Ask the clerk in the courtroom if you need the court file or docket sheet (list of what has been filed in your case) and give the clerk your paperwork. (The clerk may be sitting in court near the judge instead of in their office.)
  • 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.

After the judge signs the Ordertake the signed Order back to the court. (The judge may hand your papers directly to the clerk.)

  • 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. If you did not get a fee waiver, 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 OrderThe Order tells these entities to return or destroy all records about the arrest.
  • Keep a copy of the signed Order for your records.
  • Note: It is possible that many private background-check companies have copies of your records. After you get your Order, you can contact the Foundation for Continuing Justice at www.continuingjustice.org for help getting private companies to remove your records from their databases.
  • Ask the clerk about their policies for destroying expunged files. Ask them what you need to do to get a copy of the expunged file for your records before it is destroyed.

Source URL: https://texaslawhelp.org/checklist/petition-for-expunction-of-criminal-records-charges-dismissed-or-quashed