Having a law blog guarantees a steady stream of email questions. It has come to my attention that many of you are pursuing a certain career, and worried about the effect of a criminal charge.
Readers will send me information on some old criminal case in which they took a “great” plea offer and were told (erroneously) that a deferred or reduced charge would not appear on their record or prevent them from entering a certain field.
Potential cops, law students, firemen, and teachers, have contacted me with similar concerns. Here are the three most common questions.
1. What is on my record?
2. Can I have this removed from my record?
3. Will this keep me from getting hired/licensed/accepted?
1. Most people would be surprised to know there is no one official “record” for you. The police and prosecutors of Texas utilitize the National Crime Information Center. Private employers typically use background search companies like KnowX.com, public data.com, or intellius.com. Finally, DPS keeps a database of criminal records, and the county you were convicted in should have your case as the clerk’s office.
What is on your record depends on which one is being looked at. In my experience it may not matter. You will probably be required to disclose this information yourself when applying. My law school application required all conviction/criminal charges to be disclosed.
2. Can the charge be removed, expunged, non disclosed or otherwise kept from view?
Maybe, maybe not. Here are the rules for Expunction.
Here are the rules for non disclosure.
3. This is area I know the least about, whether or not that old criminal case will prevent you from getting a license, or job, or into grad school. The only professional license I am familiar with is my own. I knew law students who had a DWI in their past and still were allowed to practice law.
I advise asking someone in the field you are considering, calling the employer, and checking the licensing requirements (for Texas) here- http://www.state.tx.us/portal/tol/en/gov/9