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Determining the Limitations Period in Texas for Expungements

State v. Taylor
Court of Appeals of Texas, Tyler
September 3, 2008

Holding: When determining whether the limitations period has passed, the court will look to the amount of time the period was tolled between the day the indictment, information, or complaint is filed to when such indictment, information or complaint was determined to be invalid for any reason.

Why This Case is Important: Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 55.01 requires that a petitioner’s limitation period must have expired prior to the time the petition is made. Limitation periods are laid out under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure; for misdemeanors, there is a two-year period from the date of the commission of the offense.

This case explains how this limitation period will be tolled from the time of indictment, information or complaint, to when the case is determined to be invalid for any reason.

This concept is best explained through simple illustration:
If a petitioner commits a misdemeanor crime on January 1, 2000, his limitation period begins on January 2, 2000. However, his limitation period will be tolled from when he is indicted, to when the court determined that his case was invalid for any reason. As such, if the petitioner is indicted on March 1, 2000, and the case is found to be invalid for any reason on May 1, 2000, then the limitation will be tolled for two months. In other words, the two months will not be computed in the period of limitation. Therefore the petitioner in this illustration must wait until at least March 1, 2002, before he can petition for expungement.

Facts of This Case: The petitioner in this case committed a crime on March 26, 2005. He was indicted on April 30, 2005, and the prosecution was dismissed on July 31, 2007. The petitioner filed for expunction of his records on September 24, 2007, and the trial court granted his request.

The Texas court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. The court of appeals stated that the period between indictment and dismissal did not count toward the limitation period. The court of appeals held that the limitation period would not expire until at least July 7, 2009. Because the petitioner filed for expunction prior to the expiration of the limitation period, the court of appeals concluded that he failed to satisfy his burden of proof.

Therefore, because petitioner did not show strict compliance with the statute, the Texas court of appeals reversed the trial court’s order and rendered a judgment denying petitioner’s request for expunction.

Key Language: In determining the period of limitations, the time during the pendency of an indictment, information, or complaint shall not be computed. The term “during the pendency” means that period of time beginning with the day the indictment, information, or complaint is filed in a court of competent jurisdiction, and ending with the day such accusation is determined to be invalid for any reason.

Expert Advise: “This case helps us understand the limitation requirement that must be met prior to filing a petition. Although a long period of time may pass between the commission of a crime and dismissal, this case demonstrates that the period may have been tolled, and the limitation period may not have expired. It would be helpful to explain this case to those petitioning for expungement who are in the same situation as the petitioner in this case.” Attorney Mathew Higbee

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

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