Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT. A person is arrested following a traffic protest along I-35 in May 2020.
Travis County is set to host its fourth “expunction expo” May 20, an event where people who have been arrested but not convicted can remove the arrest from their record.
Travis County District Attorney José Garza said removing such arrests can provide something of a clean start.
“The arrest on a person’s record can be a significant impediment,” Garza said. “From their ability to find and get jobs to their ability to apply for and receive housing, like apartments, and it can be a significant impediment to their ability to apply for financial aid in terms of their education.”
Garza said there are many instances in which arrests are eligible for expunction – if charges were dismissed by a judge, for instance, or the person arrested completed a diversion program. A case could even go as far as a grand jury trial, he said. As long as there’s no conviction, the arrest may be eligible to be expunged, or erased.
Expunctions are available at all times in Texas, but they require a court visit. The expo in May will expedite and simplify that process. People who want to attend must fill out an application and can do so here until April 7.
The expo is a full-day event that will look a lot like a career fair, with staff available to help with job searches, career training and legal services. Garza and his team plan to bring in partners, like the Capital Area Private Defender Service and Travis County Public Defender’s Office, to help.
Garza said quite a few people are eligible for expunction, but not many are aware of the expo.
“We normally have a fair amount of people applying and who are eligible, but it can be a challenge to get people that are determined to be eligible to actually come to the expo,” he said. “We understand that folks can face significant time barriers (and) transportation barriers. And so we’re going to be thinking through that and about how we can make it easier for people to attend.”
This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.
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This article First appeared in austinmonitor