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Why you need an expunction, especially in Travis County

Check out this article in yesterday’s Austin American Statesman:

Travis lags in sending crime info to state database

The short version is that Texas counties are required by law to forward arrest and prosecution information to the Texas Criminal Justice Information System, which is run by the Department of Public Safety.  Travis County’s reporting of this criminal record information to DPS is much slower and less complete than most other Texas counties.

You might think that as an expunction/expungement attorney working out of Travis County, I would welcome the lack of reporting of criminal history to the state database.  You would be wrong.

First of all, all arrests in Austin/Travis County are assigned a tracking number (TRN).  DPS uses the TRN to track the person’s arrest history.

in their database, so virtually every arrest is being reported to DPS.  What is not being reported is the disposition of the case: whether it resulted in dismissal, deferred adjudication, probation, or jail time.

So let’s say you were arrested for possession of marijuana in Travis County and your case was dismissed.  You get a background check for a job, apartment, or professional license.  If your record has been thoroughly expunged, you can legally deny you were arrested, and the information will not show up on the DPS background check.  If not, your prospective employer, landlord or licensing board will see that you were arrested, but there is a good chance they will NOT see that your case was dismissed

.  Most often the background check will say “Disposition: HELD”, which is exactly the same way it looks when a case is still pending.  Every employer and landlord is different, but I know from experience that many of them just move on to the next applicant, and you don’t get the call-back.

This applies to orders of nondisclosure in Travis County as well.   If you completed deferred adjudication successfully, your case was dismissed.  But what good does that do you if all your background check says is that you were arrested?

This article illustrates the importance of sealing or expunging your record, especially in Austin/Travis County, as soon as you are eligible.  If you don’t, who knows what the person looking at your background check will see (or perhaps worse, won’t see).