By Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal
I get asked this a lot. My guess is normally employers don’t find out but information is a hard thing to control.
Will the Police or Courts Notify My Work?
Rarely. Most State and even Federal courts are inundated with case after case. Usually your case is nothing special to them and they’ve got their own issues to deal with or worry about and there’s really no reason for them to go out of their way to hurt someone’s ability to make a living. Plus they understand notifying an employer for any reason is — how should I say politely — “messed up” or “below the belt.”
What Are Situations Where Police or Courts Would Notify My Work?
One way work finds out is in cases where law enforcement really doesn’t like someone they will have them arrested at work. Maybe they think it’s flashy or they feel entitled to humiliate someone. This almost never happens on garden variety arrests for assault, DWI, or theft.
Sometimes a Court could impose work related restrictions as a condition of bond or probation. That could be related to driving company vehicles in a DWI case, or potentially limiting or monitoring travel in some felony cases. Some sex cases might involve the accused not being able to work around children until the case is finalized.
Another rare reason might be someone from work could be called as a witness or by an investigator for some reason (assuming the criminal charge isn’t work related to begin with).
Your work could learn about the criminal case too due to absences for Court or because you find yourself in a funk where others around you are wondering what’s been eating at you.
What Will A Background Check Show?
In this information age, you should assume a background check will show your arrest and/or charges. There is an error rate like with anything else and it’s not 100% your arrest will show up or be accurate. But it’s best to be honest if you’re asked about an arrest.
Do I Have to Tell My Employer?
Read your company hand-book.
Texas is an at-will state for employment purposes so you can be hired, fired, promoted or demoted for good reasons, bad reasons or no reason at all. This means you can be fired for not telling your employer if your hand-book says you must. You can also be fired if you do tell work you were arrested, unfortunately.
My experience is with most charges employers take a “wait and see” attitude. Many are actually extremely supportive.
Obviously I don’t know your employer as well as you do. So disclosing an arrest is understandably a calculated gamble.
Expunctions and Non-Disclosures
See if you are eligible for an expunction or a non-disclosure when your case is over. These can eliminate or lessen the amount of public information available about your case.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed in the State of Texas. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For advice about any situation you should contact a lawyer directly.