Ex Parte J. E.

NUMBER 13-19-00428-CV COURT OF APPEALS THIRTEENTH DISTRICT OF TEXAS CORPUS CHRISTI – EDINBURG EX PARTE J.E. On appeal from the 404th District Court of Cameron County, Texas. MEMORANDUM OPINION Before Justices Benavides, Perkes, and Tijerina Memorandum Opinion by Justice Benavides By two issues, appellant, the Texas Department of Public Safety (the Department), appeals an order expunging all files and records relating to appellee J.E.’s arrest. The Department argues that: (1) J.E. is not entitled to expunction because he pleaded guilty to offenses arising out of the arrest; and (2) the trial court’s order of expunction is not supported by legally sufficient evidence. We reverse and render. I. BACKGROUND J.E. was arrested for seven counts of unauthorized employment of a private investigator or security agency, a class A misdemeanor. See TEX. OCCUP. CODE ANN. § 1702.386. All charges arose out of the same arrest. On February 13, 2018, he pleaded guilty to six counts of violation of a restriction while operating a commercial motor vehicle, a class C misdemeanor, and one count of trespassing on school grounds, also a class C misdemeanor. See TEX. TRANSP. CODE ANN. § 522.043; TEX. EDUC. CODE ANN. § 37.107. In exchange for his guilty pleas on the class C misdemeanor cases, the seven class A misdemeanor cases were dismissed on February 14, 2018.1 See TEX. OCCUP. CODE ANN. § 1702.386. On March 9, 2018, J.E. filed his motion to expunge the unauthorized employment cases that were dismissed stating that: 3. Petitioner is entitled to an expunction of all records of all records [sic] and files relating to said alleged offenses of, J.E., under Article 55.01(a)(2) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, because the offenses were dismissed; Petitioner has been released; the charges have not resulted in a final conviction; are no longer pending; and there was no court ordered community supervision. The Department filed its original answer and general denial, stating that J.E. was not entitled to an expunction because he “was convicted as a result of this arrest” and does not qualify for an expunction. On August 29, 2018, the trial court held a hearing and granted J.E.’s motion for expunction. The Department was absent from the proceedings. The State was present and stated that although normally a plea of guilty on one case in exchange for other cases being dismissed would bar expunction, here, the class C offenses are not lesser-included offenses of the class A offenses, and the State had no 1 The dismissal forms for each class A misdemeanor stated J.E. “was convicted in another case/Cause No.” and then listed the difference class C cause numbers. 2 objection. The trial court granted the expunction, but never reduced its order to writing. A different judge held a subsequent hearing on January 23, 2019. The Department did not appear at this hearing either. During the second hearing, the trial court stated it was its understanding that the expunction order was previously granted but was never signed. The trial court placed J.E. under …Original document