Background Checks

April 12, 2017

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

I get asked about the dreaded background check a lot.  As in every day.

The whole point of criminal defense is (1) keeping my client out of jail; and (2) keeping my client’s record as clean as possible.  It stands to reason this is a huge concern for everyone who comes into my office.

I’m a criminal defense lawyer and I can bore you about the rules of evidence, the Constitution, and what the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas has been up to all day long.  I’ve picked up a thing or two about criminal background checks along the way so here is some basic info:

Who Keeps Criminal Records?

Criminal records are kept by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).  The FBI’s database is called the “National Crime Information Center, or “NCIC” for short.  DPS maintains the “TCIC” or the Texas Crime Information Center.  Every time someone is arrested in Texas they get both a TCIC and NCIC tracking number.

TCIC and NCIC records are not public and it’s actually a crime for someone to disseminate it to the public.

Also city and county jails keep records with varying degrees of success as well.  This could show arrests or tickets on a city level which may or may not get reported either to the TCIC, NCIC or online.  Some publish citations directly to the public.

Private companies are allowed to purchase records.  These companies in turn re-format them to make them more user friendly and are the traditional back-ground search companies typically used.

So How Does a Background Search Work?

Police and law enforcement can directly access TCIC and NCIC records when they run a report.  Everyone else has to go through a private company.  Some search engines are more reputable than others.  Again, the private search engines typically purchase records and provide a more user-friendly product to whomever is doing the search.

So generally a lender, employer, or apartment complex first has to have a legal reason and/or authorization to run your background check.   This is under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.  When logging onto the search engine a user is asked the purpose of the search.  Not to get too bogged down on this point, people can’t run your back-ground just to do it.  They have to have a reason.

Will The Background Search Be Accurate?

It’s a human process so there will be an error rate.  An additional problem is prospective employers, bankers or landlords also tend to not understand what it is they are reading.  Ultimately you have to recognize the world isn’t a fair place.  Bad background searches will happen and even a good result from a criminal case can be mis-read by someone making a hiring decision.

Some Anecdotal Good News

Experience teaches me a few things about background searches.  First, is when someone or their loved one is charged with a crime — there is a feeling every eyeball in the planet is on them.  It is common to feel everyone knows everything about what they are going through.  This is not true.  Additionally, background checks are probably much more rare than you think.  Not everyone is running you every day.

Also my experience is most employers tend to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude when they do learn of something negative on a background report.  They are afraid to take action and really do want to get both sides of the story before they make a decision.  This at least allows the person a chance to explain their side.

*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 legal advice about this or any situation you should contact an attorney directly.


Will My Employer Find Out if I’m Arrested?

December 2, 2016

By Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

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.

 

 


Protecting a Professional License When Facing Criminal Charges

January 21, 2014

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

A professional license is like your personal Alamo.  It’s your livelihood and must be defended at all costs.

Any criminal charge must be evaluated to gauge it’s impact on your ability to either attain or maintain a professional license.  In some instances losing a license because of a criminal record is automatic and in other instances it may simply open the door to a licensing board to taking action.

This intersection of law is between traditional criminal law and administrative law as criminal courts don’t directly weigh-in on licenses such as medical licenses, CPA licenses, or engineering licenses.  Those decisions are made by different bodies.

Texas Occupations Code Chapter 53 governs the consequences of criminal records on certain professional licenses.  It’s structure demonstrates the complex and layered approach the legislature intended in situations when dealing with certain crimes as they relate to certain professions.

Your criminal lawyer needs to be mindful of the professional consequences in a criminal action.  Someone facing family assault charges, DWI, or drug charges may be facing stiff probation from the criminal court — but probation may be a hollow victory if administrative action against a professional license wipes-out your ability to put food on the table.

The end-game is what really matters and a good criminal lawyer is thinking 5-steps ahead.  Sometimes you simply need a “not-guilty” verdict… and that is that!

*Jeremy 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 situation you should contact an attorney directly.


What is an Expunction in Texas?

July 14, 2013

Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.thecollincountylawyer.com

(972) 369-0577

A criminal arrest record can be like the legal equivalent of cancer.  It can cost you a job, a promotion at work, or countless other opportunities.  The damage is done when someone hears about the arrest.  Most aren’t interested in details that you were acquitted or the charges were dropped.

An expunction is the legal equivalent of curing the cancer that is a criminal arrest.  A state district judge orders the records stemming from a criminal arrest destroyed.  This includes records which were part of the arrest or that reference the arrest such as court records, the district attorney’s file, and even transcripts of the trial.  When people refer to having something “taken off” their record, an expunction is generally what they mean.  This also means that the state’s agencies can’t give information about your these arrests to private…

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The List of Who Can See a Non-Disclosed Criminal Record in Texas

July 8, 2013

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

A non-disclosure can generally be described as “hiding” a criminal record from the public.  This means your record never really goes away.  Certain agencies and entities can always view your criminal record.

You can read about eligibility requirements here for a petition for non-disclosure.

Here is the list currently provided by the Texas Government Code 411.081(i) of agencies that can see non-disclosed criminal records.

  • The State Board for Educator Certification;
  • School Districts;
  • Charter Schools;
  • Private Schools;
  • Regional education-service center;
  • Commercial-transportation companies;
  • Education shared-service arrangement companies;
  • Texas Medical Board;
  • Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired;
  • Board of Law Examiners;
  • State Bar of Texas;
  • A District Court regarding petition for name change;
  • Texas School for the deaf;
  • Department of Family and Protective Services;
  • Texas Youth Commission;
  • Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services;
  • Department of State Health Services;
  • Local mental health services;
  • Local mental retardation authorities;
  • Community centers providing services to mentally ill or retarded persons;
  • Texas Private Security Board;
  • Municipal or volunteer fire departments;
  • Texas Board of Nursing;
  • Safe houses providing shelter to children in harmful situations;
  • Public or non-profit hospital districts;
  • Texas Juvenile Probation Commission;
  • Securities Commissioner;
  • Banking Commissioner;
  • Savings and Mortgage Lending Commissioner;
  • Consumer Credit Commissioner;
  • Credit Union Commissioner;
  • State Board of Public Accounting;
  • Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation;
  • Health and Human Services Commission;
  • Department of Aging and Disability Services;
  • Texas Education Agency;
  • Guardianship Certification Board;
  • County Clerks office in regards to appointment of a guardian;
  • Department of Information Resources;
  • Court Reporters Certification Board;
  • Texas Department of Insurance;
  • Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

Non-dislclosures should not be confused with expunctions which are generally a complete destruction of a criminal case on one’s record.  You can read about expunctions here.

*Jeremy 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 situation you should contact an attorney directly.


Charges Where You Can’t Get Deferred Adjudication in Texas

April 12, 2010

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Deferred adjudication is where you plead guilty but the judge does not actually find you guilty.  Instead they defer that finding while you are placed on probation.

Deferred adjudication is available on many criminal charges in Texas but not all.  Most people are familiar with deferred for traffic tickets but the truth is the concept is far more expansive.

Virtually every offense in Texas is legally subject to deferred with the exception to DWI offenses, (Tex.Pen.C. 49.04 – 49.08), capital offenses, certain sex offenses, and certain repeat offenses (typically sex offenses or selling drugs in drug free zones).  Texas Code of Criminal Procedure section 42.12 Section 5 governs deferred and it’s availability.

As with which cases a person may receive community supervision, in certain situations for deferred, the statutory scheme gets tricky and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions.

I have discussed in previous blawgs the other pros and cons of deferred here, and here.  Never assume that by pleading guilty (or nolo contendere) and getting deferred that your criminal record will be unharmed or will undo itself.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article should be considered leal advice.  For legal advise specific to your situation you should directly consult an attorney.


Deferred Adjudication

March 14, 2010

By Collin County Criminal Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Deferred adjudication in Texas is where a person charged with an offense pleads guilty or no contest and rather than being found guilty, the judge defers a finding of guilty while the accused is placed on what amounts to probation.

If the person successfully completes deferred, they are never “convicted” of the offense.  Most people are familiar with deferred because of a traffic offense or another class c misdemeanor.  Most class c deferred adjudications do make you eligible for expunction.  You are not eligible for expunction for class b misdemeanors or above in Texas, meaning your criminal record will never be completely erased.  You may be eligible for a petition for non-disclosure which is much different.

It is a dangerous, dangerous, assumption for anyone to make that if they plead guilty and accept deferred that the case merely vanishes or goes away.  Here is an interesting web site about deferred adjudication.  I’m not personally familiar with this group, but they seem to have some interesting information and statistics about deferred.

I’m not always convinced deferred is a terrible thing, but sometimes deferred can even be the devil’s candy… meaning that it sounds very tempting but it only begins your nightmare.

If you violate deferred, then you’re subject to punishment for the entire punishment range.  What this means, is that even though you get deferred on a state jail felony (that has a maximum punishment of 2 years jail — as an example), you may at first just have to report to a probation officer and do probation — but if you violate your probation — you can’t go back and fight the underlying case AND you are still subject to doing up to the entire 2 years in jail.

The federal government may treat a Texas deferred as a conviction.  Also, there are many Texas statutes and laws which simply don’t give you any benefit above and beyond a conviction.  Just as a small example, where a juvenile gets multiple dui deferred adjudications, they can later be enhanced as if they were convictions.  There are plenty of other criminal statutes  in Texas that treat deferred like a conviction.

If you’re about to accept deferred adjudication in a Texas Court, you should make sure to specifically know exactly what it is that you’re getting into by speaking with your 

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For specific legal advice, you should always consult an attorney.

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