Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
from the 217th District Court of Angelina County, Texas
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
Texas Department of Public Safety appeals the trial
court's order granting an expunction of Jessica
Seymore's arrest for possession of a controlled
substance. DPS presents two issues on appeal. We reverse and
was arrested on May 25, 2013, and charged with both driving
while intoxicated (DWI) and possession of a controlled
substance. The State dismissed the possession charge, and
Seymore pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the DWI
offense. The court sentenced Seymore to one year of community
supervision and a $745.00 fine.
November 2015, Seymore filed a petition with the district
court to expunge any and all of the records arising from the
May 25, 2013 possession charge, along with another unrelated
arrest. She alleged that the possession charge was dismissed
and did not result in a final conviction. The court
originally set the petition for hearing on December 3, 2015,
but the hearing did not take place until December 28, 2015.
At that hearing, the court granted Seymore's petition.
who did not attend the hearing, filed its original answer and
general denial on January 6, 2016. After learning that the
expunction had been granted, DPS filed a motion for new trial
alleging that it did not receive notice of the hearing being
reset and that the May 25, 2013 arrest could not be expunged
because Seymore was convicted of DWI. The trial court did not
rule on the motion for new trial. This appeal followed.
first issue, DPS contends that Seymore was not entitled to
have her arrest record expunged because the arrest resulted
in a final conviction. In its second issue, DPS urges the
court erred by failing to provide DPS with notice of the
review a trial court's order granting or denying a
petition for expunction for abuse of discretion. See
Heine v. Tex. Dep't of Pub. Safety, 92 S.W.3d 642,
646 (Tex. App.-Austin 2002, pet. denied). A trial court
abuses its discretion if it acts "without reference to
any guiding rules or principles." E.I. du Pont de
Nemours & Co. v. Robinson, 923 S.W.2d 549, 558 (Tex.
1995). If an expunction ruling turns on a question of law, we
review it de novo because a "trial court has no
'discretion' in determining what the law is or
applying the law to the facts." See Walker v.
Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992). A trial court
abuses its discretion if it misinterprets or misapplies the
the law that governs expunctions is part of the code of
criminal procedure, an expunction proceeding is civil in
nature and is governed by the rules of civil procedure.
See Carson v. State, 65 S.W.3d 774, 784 (Tex.
App.-Fort Worth 2001, no pet.). Expunction is not a
constitutional or common law right, but purely a statutory
privilege. Tex. Dep't of Pub. Safety v. Nail,305 S.W.3d 673, 675 (Tex. App.-Austin 2010, no pet.). The
trial court must strictly comply with statutory requirements,
and has no equitable power to extend the ...