Identity Theft And Removing Other False Information From Your Texas Criminal Record
June 24, 2015
By: Sam Eastman, Partner, Eastman Meyler, PC
Texas makes criminal records particularly available to the public, regardless of whether an arrest resulted in a conviction. Fair or not, counties in Texas make this private, potentially damaging information available to practically anybody with an internet connection. What is particularly troubling about this system is that such information isn’t even always correct.
Incorrect criminal records are often the result of identity theft, but many cases are mistakes made by third parties or the criminal justice system at your cost. In many cases, the victim of an incorrect Texas criminal record won’t even discover the mistake until they’ve been denied employment or had their reputation damaged. For the victim, the process for removing false information from their Texas criminal record can be complicated and overwhelming—its typically not as easy as just picking up the phone and asking somebody to correct their mistake. The following is a brief overview of how to discover false information on your Texas criminal record, and the process to ensure its properly removed.
Discovering False Information on Your Texas Criminal Record
Unfortunately, a failed background check by an employer is the most common way our clients discover false information on their criminal records. Sometimes the situation can be explained to the prospective employer, but unfortunately the job opportunity is already lost. The best way to ensure your criminal record is accurate is to get your fingerprints run at a Live Scan facility. There are plenty of Live Scan locations, and the process is relatively inexpensive. You can also have a background search run on yourself by a background check service or a number of online service providers, but please note that these reports can often be incomplete and inaccurate themselves, so use caution when relying on these services.
Correcting Texas Criminal Records Relating to Identity Theft
When you’ve discovered false information on your Texas criminal record, the next step is obviously to determine the best way to correct your criminal record. In 2003, the Texas Legislature passed a law permitting victims of identity theft to pursue an expunction directly through the District Attorney’s Office instead of the regular process of filing a Petition for Expunction with the County or District Clerk. The main benefits in obtaining an expunction through the District Attorney are: (1) the typical filing fee of approximately $300 is waived, and (2) the expunction is processed much faster.
Eligibility to file for an expunction with the District Attorney due to identity theft has the following requirements:
1. Information identifying you was falsely given by the arrestee without your consent; and
2. The only reason the false criminal information is on your criminal record is that the information was falsely given at arrest.
Although the process of clearing up your criminal record through the District Attorney is somewhat less complicated, you must strictly comply with their filing and documentation requirements, which can be quite difficult to figure out on your own. Our law firm regularly helps clients who have been the victim of identity theft, and understands exactly what it takes to correct your record as quickly as possible the first time.
Correcting Texas Criminal Records Not Relating to Identity Theft
Unfortunately, identity theft is not the only way that false information makes it onto your Texas criminal record. When identity theft is not the reason for false information on your Texas criminal record, you usually must file an ordinary Petition for Expunction with the relevant County Clerk or District Clerk, which is more complicated and expensive than the process for expunction relating to identity theft described above.
You many not file for an expunction with the District Attorney to correct your Texas criminal record in the following circumstances:
1. Misidentifications by Third Parties: If somebody other than the arrestee falsely accuses you of a criminal offense, it does not qualify as identity theft, and you cannot take advantage of pursuing an expunction through the District Attorney. For example, if a car dealer makes a mistake and incorrectly accuses you of stealing a car, you must correct your criminal record using the ordinary expungement process.
2. Misidentification by Coincidence: If there is somebody else with the same name and/or birthdate in your county who has a criminal record that shows up in your background checks, you must file an ordinary Petition for Expungement to ensure that common identifiers in the record do not confuse you with the person with a criminal record.
3. Typographical Errors by Law Enforcement: These types of errors are typically corrected directly with the law enforcement agency itself, which varies depending on the agency.
Ensuring Errors to Your Criminal Record Are Removed Correctly
If you have discovered that your Texas Criminal Record is inaccurate, immediately taking the appropriate steps to remove false information is critical. Correcting your criminal record in Texas can take time, and you do not want to miss out on an opportunity in life due to something that isn’t your fault. Waiting until you need your criminal record corrected is typically too late to make a difference. The law firm of Eastman Meyler, PC is headquartered in Texas, and helps clients remove false information from their criminal records all of the time. We are the leading expungement and record sealing law firm in Texas, offering low-price and money-back guarantees, and flexible payment plans on our Texas Expungement Services.
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