FAQ: Fixing Your Criminal History

What is my criminal history?

digital-peopleYour criminal history is a database of every arrest and jailable offense that has ever been filed against you during your entire life, together with the results of prosecution in each case, i.e., dismissal, probation, deferred adjudication, conviction, etc.

This data is stored together with personally identifying information like your full name, date and location of birth, gender, height, weight, eye color, race, skin tone, fingerprint pattern, DNA profile, assumed names or aliases, as well as any unique scars, marks, or tattoos.


Call (512) 480-9020 to hire us for Expunction or Nondisclosure in Travis County.


What is the purpose of criminal histories?

fingerprintAlthough originally compiled for use by law enforcement, criminal records are also used by many public and private entities to evaluate your personal character, honesty, and integrity. Your criminal history is also an important part of the background check used by professional licensing agencies as well as some creditors and many potential employers.

How are criminal records created?

Criminal records are created by arresting agencies and courts in which charges are filed. In Texas, there are thousands of different federal, state, and local agencies with the authority to arrest a person they suspect of committing a crime. There are also thousands of courts adding data to the system, including local municipal courts, JP courts, county courts, state district courts, and federal courts.


Call (512) 480-9020 to hire us for Expunction or Nondisclosure in Travis County.


Which organizations compile criminal history data?

Local arresting agencies and criminal courts maintain their own databases of case records.  These entities are required to report most case records to the Texas Crime Record Service, which is a division of the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The electronic-informationTexas DPS, in turn, reports these criminal records to the FBI/DOJ where, along with data from other states, the records are compiled into a nationwide database known as the NCIC (National Crime information Center) index.  This electronic system is available to law enforcement 24 hours a day and also contains information about active arrest warrants, missing persons, and stolen property.  The related NICS database is used for background checks for firearm purchases.

overwhelmed-by-dataThere is also an entire industry of private information brokers that gather public records from state and local authorities and resell the data in the form of commercial pre-employment background checks and credit reports.  These companies are in competition with each other to have the most complete and up-to-date background check data.  Sometimes they even have information that is not included in the NCIC index!

The myth that criminal history data magically disappears after seven years may be caused by confusion between credit reports and private background checks.


Call (512) 480-9020 to hire us for Expunction or Nondisclosure in Travis County.


How can I get my Texas DPS criminal history?

To obtain a copy of your official Texas DPS criminal record, you’ll first need to be fingerprinted, which DPS has contracted out to a private company by the name of IdentoGO – MorphoTrust USA, formerly known as L-1 Enrollment Identity Solutions. They have offices all around Texas and some in other states.

You can make an appointment online or by calling 1-888-467-2080 (be prepared to be on hold for a while). The company will submit the prints and your request to DPS electronically. The results will be mailed to you. You’ll need to take a valid ID and check or money order in the amount of $24.95 ($9.95 for the fingerprinting + $15 for DPS) to the appointment.

DPS fingerprnt background checkIf you are in Austin you can expedite the process by going to DPS Criminal History and Fingerprint Services during normal business hours at:

108 Denson Drive, Austin, TX 78752.

The results are often available by the next afternoon.

Alternatively, if you have access to another source for fingerprinting, you can use a standard fingerprint card (form 258) and submit it to DPS, along with a written request and $15 check or money order by mail.  Your precinct Constable or County Sheriff may offer fingerprinting services.  See this form for further instructions.


Call (512) 480-9020 to hire us for Expunction or Nondisclosure in Travis County.


How can I get my FBI criminal record?

You can get your FBI record by submitting an Applicant Information Form, a standard fingerprint form and processing fee to the FBI CJIS Division in Clarksburg, West Virginia. For more information, read this page about Identity History Summary Checks.

Why is a dismissed case on my criminal history?

Under current Texas law, dismissed cases remain on your criminal history unless a judge grants an order of expunction.

Why is a deferred adjudication case on my criminal history?

Under current Texas law, most deferred adjudication cases must remain on your criminal history forever unless you receive a pardon from the Governor of Texas. The primary exception is class C misdemeanors which may be removed with an expunction.

There are, however, many types of deferred adjudication cases that can be sealed (for most civilian purposes) by an order of non-disclosure. Law enforcement and the courts do still have access to sealed records, as do many professional licensing organizations, schools, childcare providers, and healthcare employers.


Call (512) 480-9020 to hire us for Expunction or Nondisclosure in Travis County.


What if my criminal history contains errors or omissions?

wrong-informationIf the version of your criminal history maintained by Texas DPS contains errors or is incomplete you can contact the Error Resolution Unit at error.resolution@dps.texas.gov (or fax 512-424-5577) and request that they make corrections. To expedite your request please read these instructions.

The only way to force all government agencies and the private information brokers to correct errors in your criminal history is to file a petition for expunction or non-disclosure. You could almost think of these petitions as mini lawsuits that seek a court order compelling the government to do the right thing.

court rulingYou’ll want the assistance of an experienced attorney because the laws controlling expunctions and non-disclosure are complicated and the process is rife with statutory and procedural pitfalls. We can help you with this if you were arrested in Travis County or arrested elsewhere for an offense alleged to have occurred in Travis County.


Call (512) 480-9020 to hire us for Expunction or Nondisclosure in Travis County.


 

Answers to other Frequently Asked Questions

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