General

Can I report a crime to the DA’s Office?

The Criminal District Attorney’s Office is not a direct referral agency. If the crime is a complex fraud, concerns violations of the law by public officials, officers, or employees, or arises from a commercial relationship, you can contact the Special Prosecution Division of the DA’s Office, who will in turn refer the case to the appropriate local, state, or federal law enforcement organization for investigation. Any crime should always be reported to your local law enforcement agency.

How often are criminal cases disposed of through plea bargain agreements?

Very often. At least 90-plus percent of all criminal cases are disposed of by plea bargain agreements. There are many reasons why the process is necessary. If you are concerned about a plea bargain agreement in your case where you are the victim, contact the assigned prosecutor to discuss your concerns. The Collin County DA’s Office takes victims’ interests very seriously. We will make every effort to satisfy your concerns and to keep you informed throughout the prosecution process. If you are a victim of a violent crime involving assault or injury, we will consult with you before making any plea bargain agreement.

I am the complainant (victim) in a criminal case, but now I want to drop the charges. How do I do that?

The decision to dismiss a pending criminal case can be made only by a prosecutor. If the prosecutor decides to file a motion to dismiss a case, the dismissal must be approved by a judge. Prosecutors make independent professional judgments, within the bounds of the operating policies of the DA’s Office, as to whether a case merits prosecution. The victim’s wishes do not dictate that decision, although they are a factor to consider. You should contact the prosecutor to whom your case has been assigned if you want to discuss your matter.

If I can’t drop the charges, then I just won’t testify.

A subpoena will be issued directing you to appear in court on a specific day and time for the purpose of testifying. If you refuse to appear after the subpoena is delivered to you, the prosecutor will ask that a warrant (called “an attachment”) be issued for your arrest and confinement in jail until you testify in your case, whenever that may be. Further, willful failure to obey a lawful order of a court, such as a subpoena, is an act of contempt for which you may be punished by the court. After all of that, you will still have to testify.

When you testify, you must testify truthfully. Giving false testimony as to important facts while under oath in an official proceeding (such as a trial) is a very serious felony offense.

To whom should I report a crime?

In most cases you should report the crime to your local law enforcement agency. If you live in a city or town, that report would be made to your police department. If the crime is committed outside a city or town, or in an area of the county where the Sheriff’s Office patrols, your report should be made to the Collin County Sheriff’s Office. Of course, if your report is an emergency, call 911.

What about me as a victim? How do I fit into the prosecution of a criminal case?

Once a case has been assigned to a prosecutor, you will be contacted and so informed. From then on, you will be advised as to the progress of your case, and you will be asked about your wishes regarding the matter. Bear in mind, however, that there are many other factors for the prosecutor to consider and the prosecutor will make the ultimate decision about how the case is to proceed. You will be required to testify at any trial, and your testimony may be needed at a pre-trial hearing. The prosecutor or his or her investigator will advise you of all that may be required of you. Any time you have any questions, ask the prosecutor, the investigator, or the victim assistance coordinator assigned to your case.

You can also contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Division for more information and to check your eligibility for crime victim compensation benefits and other services offered by the DA or by Collin County.

What is a plea bargain and how does the process work?

Plea bargaining can be a complex procedure, but in general it occurs when the State and the defendant, through their respective attorneys, agree that the defendant will plead guilty to one or more pending criminal cases in return for a specific sentence, subject to approval by the court.

A prosecutor assigned to a criminal case will evaluate the facts and circumstances of the case and make a determination of what punishment (sentence) to offer to the defendant in return for his plea of guilty to the charge in the case. This recommended punishment is based on the prosecutor’s view of the case and its facts and his or her experience in trial with similar cases having similar facts. The defendant’s attorney will make a similar assessment and either advise his client to accept or not. If the defendant does not accept the offer, the case is set for trial. If the defendant accepts the punishment recommendation in return for his plea of guilty, a written plea bargain agreement is signed by the attorneys and the defendant, the defendant pleads guilty, and the court accepts the plea and assesses punishment in accordance with the plea bargain agreement.

The court, however, may not accept the plea or the plea bargain agreement, in which case the attorneys and the defendant may reopen negotiations or the case is tried before the court or before a jury.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

A felony is any offense for which the punishment range established by law includes death, confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, or confinement in a state jail facility. A misdemeanor is any offense punishable by a fine only or by confinement in a county jail, whether a fine is imposed or not.

When a law enforcement agency files my case with the DA’s Office, what happens next?

The case is reviewed by an experienced felony prosecutor assigned to the Grand Jury Division. If that prosecutor determines the case should be accepted for prosecution, the case will be filed in a county court at law, if it is a misdemeanor case, or sent to the Grand Jury Division if it is a felony. The prosecutor may reject the case or send it back to the filing agency for more information.

When the Grand Jury Division receives the case, the prosecutor in charge of that Division will determine when to schedule the case for consideration by the grand jury. The grand jury will either return an indictment or no-bill the case. You may be required to testify before the grand jury. If the case is indicted, the indictment is filed with the appropriate district court.

 

Expunction

Am I eligible for an expunction?

To determine if you are eligible for an expunction, you should consult Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.  The District Attorney cannot provide legal advice regarding expunctions.  You can hire an attorney or consult legal materials available at the Collin County Law Library located on the first floor of the district courthouse.

Can I get a copy of the expunction order?

You should receive a copy of the expunction order after the judge signs it.  If you do not receive one, request one from the District Clerk as soon as possible.  After the agencies have complied with the order, all records will be destroyed and you will not be able to request a copy of the order.  Keep your order in a safe place; after the records are destroyed, it will be the only way to prove you received an expunction.

Can I get my records back?

For dismissal expunctions, you can request to receive any records submitted to the District Clerk.  The request should be made to the District Clerk’s office.  For acquittal and identity theft expunctions, you may not retrieve your records.  Any records will be destroyed by the District Clerk.

Does the statute of limitations have to run before I can get an expunction?

In all dismissal expunctions, the statute of limitations must run before a person is entitled to an expunction. This applies to both felonies and misdemeanors, including where the petitioner received deferred adjudication on a Class C misdemeanor. The statute of limitations is tolled while an indictment or information is pending.

How do I file for an expunction?

You must file a petition in the District Clerk’s Office. The District Clerk’s Office is located on the first floor of the district courthouse at 2100 Bloomdale Road, McKinney, Texas 75071. All petitions for expunction must be filed in district court, even if your case was in county court.

How do I serve the respondents?

When you file the petition, you must provide enough copies to the District Clerk to serve all respondents.  The District Clerk will mail the petitions for a fee.  You may also request that the Clerk fax the petitions instead.  Be certain you provide a fax number for each respondent if you choose this option.

How many copies of the order should I provide?

You should provide an original order for the Assistant District Attorney and the judge to sign, plus a copy for every respondent listed on your petition.

How much notice must I provide?

For an acquittal expunction, an order can be signed as soon as you have notified the District Attorney’s Office and obtained our agreement.  For dismissal expunctions, you must provide at least 30 days’ notice to all respondents.

On whom do I need to serve my petition?

You will need to serve all agencies that you believe have records of your arrest.  At a minimum, you must include the District Attorney, the District Clerk, the police department that made the arrest, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.  Other agencies may also have records, depending on if you were taken to jail, if you were placed on a pre-trial release, or if your case was filed in county court.

Only agencies who are listed on your petition and given proper notice are subject to an expunction order.  If you discover after your petition was filed that you did not include an agency, you must file an amended petition.

To whom does the order apply?

Expunction orders apply only to government agencies and private agencies that purchase criminal history records from the government.  Private agencies such as newspapers, corporations, and bail bondsmen are not subject to expunction orders.

What about the special case of an identity theft expunction?

If you have been a victim of identity theft, you do not need to file a petition for expunction. Rather, for an identity theft expunction, you need only file an IDTheft Expunction Application with the District Attorney’s Office.

What are the types of expunctions?

There are three basic types of expunctions:

  1.  Acquittal – petitioner was found not guilty at trial, acquitted by the Court of Criminal Appeals, or pardoned.
  2. Dismissal – case dismissed before trial, whether not filed by the police, refused by the District Attorney, no-billed by the grand jury, or dismissed by the trial court.
  3. Identity theft – another person provided the petitioner’s identifying information without consent upon arrest.

What happens after I file a petition?

An Assistant District Attorney reviews all expunction petitions submitted to the Office.  If you meet all the statutory requirements to be entitled to an expunction, then the Assistant District Attorney will contact you or your attorney for a proposed order.  If the order meets the statutory requirements, the Assistant District Attorney will sign the order “agreed as to form.”  You may then take the agreed order to the judge to be signed.

If the Assistant District Attorney determines you are not entitled to an expunction, he or she will file an answer with the court.  The judge will then conduct a hearing to determine whether he or she should grant your petition.

What happens when the expunction is granted?

After the judge signs the expunction order, the District Clerk notifies all respondents listed on the petition.  They have 30 days to file a notice of appeal if they disagree with the decision.  Otherwise, after 30 days, the District Clerk sends each respondent a certified copy of the order.  The respondents then must gather all their files pertaining to the arrest and either delete the identifying information, destroy the records, or deliver the records to the District Clerk.  The District Clerk destroys all records delivered to it no later than one year after the order was signed.

What is a TRN and where do I find it?

The TRN is a tracking number issued by the Department of Public Safety upon an arrest.  It must be included on your expunction order.  You can obtain your TRN by contacting the District Attorney’s Office, the police department, or the Sheriff’s Office.

What is an expunction?

An expunction is a means for a person arrested for a crime to have his record erased. In general, you must have been found not guilty at trial or had your case dismissed before trial in order to qualify. Convictions, probation, and deferred adjudication orders may not be expunged.

Where do I serve the District Attorney’s office?

Collin County Criminal District Attorney
Attention: Expunctions
2100 Bloomdale Road, Suite 100
McKinney, Texas 75071
Fax (214) 491-4860