By Collin and Dallas County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Criminal records are generated different ways. What you have to remember is that when you get arrested, you are cycling through a public system where information is (to varying degrees) open to the public.
Your “official” criminal records are kept by the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The FBI runs the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and DPS runs the TCIC (Texas Crime Information Center). Only specifically authorized personnel are allowed to view information in these databases and it is not readily accessible to the public. In fact, the illegal dissemination of information of the NCIC or TCIC is a class b misdemeanor in Texas.
When a private citizen or company is looking at your criminal record, what they are really looking at is information a third-party vendor has purchased or acquired directly from county, state or city court system. Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, users must justify their queries and have a legitimate purpose for conducting background research on websites of the public data forums. As you might guess, the categories are somewhat broad — so if you’re applying for a job or for credit then it’s safe to assume your background may be legally checked.
Non-disclosures and expunctions are ways in Texas that criminal records can be mitigated. An expunction under Tex.Code.Crim.P. Chapter 55 is an extremely powerful right which authorizes the actual destruction of the information surrounding the arrest. You can read more about expunctions here.
A non-disclosure under the government code chapter 481 can help in limiting the persons who can have access to an arrest record. Generally, only governmental agencies will have access to criminal records. You can read more about non-disclosures here.
*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any particular issue, you should consult an attorney directly.