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Court Ordered Community Supervision & Expungements

Ex Parte Matthew E. Green
Court of Appeals of Texas, San Antonio
February 1, 2012

Holding: A petitioner is not eligible to have his records expunged if he has been placed on court ordered community supervision, which includes being placed on misdemeanor deferred-adjudication.

Why This Case is Important: If a petitioner has not been acquitted at trial or pardoned of their conviction, then he must show that he has not been placed on court-ordered community supervision. The courts have recognized that a form of court-ordered community supervision arises from being placed on deferred adjudication. Because deferred adjudication has been recognized to be a form of community supervision, then such a petitioner will not be eligible for expungement under Article 55.01.

This is the case even if the deferred adjudication is unsupervised. The Legislature has not carved out an exception in Article 55.01 for unsupervised deferred adjudication. As a result, unsupervised deferred adjudication will still be community supervision. This can be explained by the main purpose of the statute, which largely embraces a “mistake” framework, and does not allow persons who plead guilty and receive probation to expunge records for that offense.

Facts of This Case: The petitioner in this case was arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon. He pleaded nolo contendre to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to six months of deferred adjudication. The petitioner subsequently filed and was granted expungement of his records.

The Texas court of appeals reversed the order for expungement. The court of appeals determined that being placed on unsupervised deferred adjudication constituted court ordered community supervision. The court of appeals held that being placed on deferred adjudication disqualified him from Article 55.01. The court of appeals therefore concluded that the petitioner did not meet the statute’s requirements, and that the trial court abused its discretion by granting the petitioner expungement.

The Texas court of appeals thereby reversed the trial court’s judgment and rendered a judgment denying expunction.

Key Language: Misdemeanor deferred-adjudication constitutes court ordered community supervision under article 42.12 for purposes of the expunction statute and renders a defendant ineligible for expunction of arrest records.

Expert Advise: “This case demonstrates that the trial court is bound by the Legislature. It can only grant the relief authorized by Article 55.01. As such, it is important to understand the nuances of the statute. If a petitioner is eligible for relief, there is no doubt that he will obtain many personal and professional benefits from the expungement.” Attorney Mathew Higbee

To read about more cases that help to define record clearing relief laws click here.

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