Office of the Governor - Greg Abbott

Governor Abbott Vetoes House Bill 3579

Saturday, June 20, 2015  •  Austin, Texas  •  Veto Statement
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Pursuant to Article IV, Section 14, of the Texas Constitution, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, do hereby disapprove of and veto House Bill No. 3579 as passed by the Eighty-Fourth Texas Legislature, Regular Session, because of the following objections:

I previously signed Senate Bill 1902, which increases the ability of those who have been convicted of misdemeanors to have their criminal records sealed from public disclosure. The purpose of that legislation is to expand the employment prospects of individuals whose minor criminal records may be unduly limiting their ability to pursue an honest living.

House Bill 3579 has a similar goal, but it goes too far by allowing courts to expunge dismissed criminal charges-including serious felony charges----even when the defendant was convicted of other, related charges. This would be problematic for two reasons. First, dismissal of a criminal charge is not necessarily an indicator of the defendant's innocence of that crime, particularly when a multi-charge arrest results in a plea agreement. Second, unlike orders of non-disclosure, which seal records from public view, expunction seals the records even from law enforcement. Under House Bill 3579, even those convicted of serious felonies could have parts of their criminal record expunged. This would deprive law enforcement of information about the offense history of habitual criminals, which may be useful in the investigation of future crimes.

Since the Eighty-Fourth Texas Legislature, Regular Session, by its adjournment has prevented the return of this bill, I am filing these objections in the office of the Secretary of State and giving notice thereof by this public proclamation according to the aforementioned constitutional provision.

 

GREG ABBOTT
Governor

View a PDF of the veto here