Appeal from the 149th District Court Brazoria County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 86578-CV
consists of Justices Keyes, Bland, and Huddle.
Texas Department of Public Safety appeals from an order of
expunction of criminal records granted to J.A.M., contending
that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to
grant its motion for new trial. The Department claims that
J.A.M. failed to prove her entitlement to an expunction
because, pursuant to a plea agreement, the State dismissed
two state jail felony charges in exchange for her guilty plea
to a Class A misdemeanor charge, and the court ordered
deferred adjudication community supervision arising out of
the same arrest. The Department further contends that the
expunction order is not supported by legally sufficient
evidence and that the trial court erred in failing to hold a
hearing on J.A.M.'s petition before ruling. We reverse
February 20, 2014, J.A.M. was arrested in Brazoria County for
conduct that led to grand jury indictments on two charges of
criminal mischief resulting in pecuniary loss of $2, 500 or
more but less than $30, 000, a state jail felony.
See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 28.03(b)(4)(A) (West
Supp. 2016). Pursuant to a plea agreement, those charges,
which were pending in the 300th District Court of Brazoria
County, were dismissed. Also pursuant to the plea agreement,
the State then filed an information alleging a single Class A
misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief in Brazoria County
Court at Law Number 4, to which J.A.M. pleaded guilty. The
trial court accepted her plea, deferred the proceedings
without an adjudication of her guilt, and placed J.A.M. on 15
months' deferred adjudication community supervision.
See Tex. R. Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 42.12, § 5
(West. Supp. 2016). The conditions required J.A.M. to pay a
$500 fine; pay $5, 300 in restitution in full when she
entered her plea; and perform 80 hours of community service.
13, 2016, J.A.M. petitioned to expunge the records of the two
state jail felony criminal mischief charges. The petition
does not mention the misdemeanor charge. In its answer to the
petition, the Department denied that J.A.M. was entitled to
an expunction because she served a term of community
supervision stemming from her arrest.
trial court signed an order granting the expunction on July
12, 2016. The Department then moved for a new trial, renewing
its contention that J.A.M. was ineligible for an expunction
and including copies of, among other things, the County Court
at Law Number 4's order deferring adjudication of her
guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge and ordering community
supervision. That motion was overruled by operation of law on
September 25, 2016, and the Department timely filed this
Standard Of Review
Department challenges the propriety of the trial court's
order granting J.A.M.'s petition for expunction. This
Court reviews a trial court's grant or denial of a
petition for expunction for an abuse of discretion. In re
Expunction, 465 S.W.3d 283, 286 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st
Dist.] 2015, no pet.). A trial court abuses its discretion if
it renders a decision that is arbitrary, unreasonable, or
without reference to guiding rules and principles.
Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp. v. Rhyne, 925 S.W.2d 664,
666 (Tex. 1996); In re Expunction, 465 S.W.3d at
court has no discretion in determining what the law is or
applying the law to the facts. Walker v. Packer, 827
S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992). We therefore review the trial
court's legal conclusions de novo and will uphold those
conclusions if the judgment is sustainable on any legal
theory supported by the evidence. State v. Heal, 917
S.W.2d 6, 9 (Tex. 1996); In re Expunction, 465
S.W.3d at 286.
The Expunction Statute
55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure sets forth the
requirements and procedures governing the expunction of
criminal records. See generally Tex. Code Crim.
Proc. Ann. arts. 55.01-55.06. The legislative intent behind
the statute is to permit the expunction of records of
wrongful arrests. Harris Cty. Dist. Att'y's Off.
v. J.T.S., 807 S.W.2d 572, 574 (Tex. 1991). Expunction
is a statutory privilege, not a constitutional or common-law
right. In re Expunction, 465 S.W.3d at 286. The
petitioner seeking an expunction carries the burden of
proving that all ...