[Let this be a monument to hasty blogging. I based my "good news" on a) another lawyer's published legislative update; and b) an earlier version of HB 351 than the enrolled version. While HB 351 cleaned up the language of the expunction statute, the news is not that good. The intent of the legislature was to restore the law to the way most of us thought it was before Beam, but they passed a statute that did the opposite, reaffirming Beam.]
Way back in 2007 I wrote in Bad Expunction News about the Texas Supreme Court's unfortunate interpretation of the Texas expunction statute to require defendants with dismissed cases to wait until the statute of limitations has expired before filing for expunction.
Now the Texas legislature has, in changes to the expunction statute effective 1 September 2011, rewritten the statute to make it clear that the expiration of the statute of limitations is not a precondition for the expunction of a dismissed case where there was probable cause to file the case in the first place.
For dismissed misdemeanors, defendants can get expunctions immediately.
For dismissed felonies, defendants can only get expunctions under the same terms as before: no probable cause at the time of arrest, or upon expiration of the statute of limitations.
This is going to produce a flood of expunction petitions; I may need to automate the process.