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Ex parte Rios

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

September 11, 2019

EX PARTE Ruben RIOS

          From the 437th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2017-W-0521 Honorable Lori I. Valenzuela, Judge Presiding

          Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Irene Rios, Justice Beth Watkins, Justice.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Irene Rios, Justice.

         Appellant Ruben Rios appeals the trial court's order denying his petition for expunction filed in the underlying cause. We affirm the trial court's denial of Rios's petition for expunction.

         Background

         On November 14, 2012, the State filed an information in County Court Case No. 409540 alleging Rios committed the offense of driving while intoxicated on or about May 12, 2012. On October 2, 2013, in County Court Case No. 439052, the State filed another information alleging Rios committed the offense of driving while intoxicated on or about September 28, 2013. On March 24, 2014, Rios pleaded no contest to driving while intoxicated in Case No. 409540, and the trial court sentenced Rios to two years' community supervision. On June 19, 2017, the trial court revoked Rios's community supervision in Case No. 409540 and sentenced Rios to ten years' imprisonment. On June 21, 2017, the trial court signed a judgment of acquittal, granting Rios's motion for directed verdict and finding Rios not guilty of driving while intoxicated in Case No. 439052.

         On July 14, 2017, Rios filed a petition for expunction, seeking expunction of all criminal records and files relating to Case No. 439052 for which Rios was acquitted. On July 21, 2017, the trial court signed an "Order of Expunction Following Acquittal," granting Rios relief and ordered the expunction of all records and files related to the arrest and/or alleged offense described in the petition. On August 23, 2017, the Texas Department of Public Safety ("the Department") filed its First Amended Motion for New Trial, which was set for a hearing on October 2, 2017. On October 3, 2017, the trial court signed an order that granted the Department's motion for new trial and set aside its prior expunction. See Ex parte Rios, No. 04-17-00652-CV, 2018 WL 4903070, at *1 (Tex. App.-San Antonio Oct. 10, 2018, no pet.). Rios appealed the order granting the Department's motion for new trial. Id. This court dismissed Rios's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Id. at *2.

         Rios then requested the trial court set a hearing on Rios's motion for rehearing on the Department's motion for new trial. On March 4, 2019, the trial court denied Rios's petition for expunction. This appeal followed.

         Petition for Expunction

         In his first issue, Rios contends the trial court erred by denying his petition for expunction because the offense for which he was acquitted did not arise out of the same criminal episode as the offense for which he was convicted. Rios additionally contends, in his second issue, that "[t]he trial court's application of 'criminal episode' as applied by the court's [sic] in the expunction context, flies in the face of double jeopardy considerations."

         Standard of Review

         Although a trial court's ruling on a petition for expunction is reviewed for an abuse of discretion, a trial court "has no discretion in deciding what the law is or in applying it to the facts." State v. T.S.N., 547 S.W.3d 617, 620 (Tex. 2018). Therefore, when a trial court's expunction ruling turns on a question of law such as statutory construction, it is subject to de novo review. Id. Here, the trial court's expunction ruling involves the interpretation and application of article 55.01(c) of the expunction statute;[1] therefore, we review the trial court's ruling de novo. See id.; Ex parte Expunction of J.B., 564 S.W.3d 436, 439 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2016, no pet.).

         Discussion

         Offenses Arising Out of the ...


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