Travis County lags behind in criminal history updates

A Statesman article from last month reported that Travis County doesn’t do a good job of providing updated information about criminal cases to DPS for inclusion in the State’s criminal history database. This can work both ways for people who have been charged with a crime.

On the one hand, a person who is looking for employment and was recently arrested may not have that new arrest showing up on his criminal history as quickly as it should, which can work to his advantage if he finds a job before it does. On the other hand, when a prospective employee’s case has been dismissed or otherwise favorably disposed of, that update also won’t reach his criminal history as quickly as it should, so a background check may show the case as pending long after it’s been dismissed. The good news is that the attorney who handled the case should be able to provide documents showing the favorable disposition. Still, it’s far less awkward for the prospective employee if the criminal history accurately reflects that the case was dismissed.

On a related note, a lot of people assume that when a case is dismissed, it’s automatically removed from a person’s criminal history but that’s not true! Once updated properly, the criminal history will merely show that the case was dismissed. To have it removed from his criminal record, the person must generally wait until the statute of limitations expires (that’s two years for a misdemeanor and three or more years for a felony, depending on the charge) then hire an attorney to file a petition for expunction. See this FAQ for more information about expunctions.

Catching up…

This is to let you know that I’m playing catch-up and browsing through my virtual newspaper clippings from the last few months, so you may see some older news items among my blog entries, like my last post. I’m discarding the stale stuff but some of it remains interesting or pertinent to my practice despite its age, e.g., entries for the Police Notebook.

Police Notebook: Albert Aguinaga (APD)

Officer: Albert Aguinaga.
Agency:  Austin Police Department.
Alleged Misconduct:  Indecent exposure (Class B Misdemeanor).
Disciplinary Action:  Administrative leave without pay.
Other Information:  Officer Aguinaga was indicted for indecent exposure by a Travis County Grand Jury, which declined to indict him for public lewdness and sexual assault based on a July 15, 2010 off-duty incident in which he is alleged to have exposed himself during a lap dance at a South Austin club. The punishment range for a Class B Misdemeanor is a maximum of 180 days in the Travis County Jail and/or a $2,000 fine.

Police Notebook: Officer Danny Johnson (APD).

Officer:  Danny Johnson.
Agency:  Austin Police Department.
Alleged Misconduct:  Giving misleading statements to his superiors and being rude to a resident.
Disciplinary Action:  90-day suspension without pay.
Source:  This Statesman article.
Other Information:  According to a memo regarding the incident, Officer Johnson was dispatched in response to a woman’s report that she had found a discarded hypodermic needle. Officer Johnson stated in a written report to his supervisors that the syringe was old and cracked and did not contain a needle. But the woman filed a complaint about Officer Johnson’s behavior toward her, which triggered a review of his patrol car video. The video revealed that the syringe clearly did contain a needle, that Officer Johnson did not comply with police procedures for disposing of it, and that he was rude and condescending to the woman.

Police Notebook: David Mangan #6804 (APD).

Officer:  David Mangan #6804.
Agency:  Austin Police Department.
Alleged Misconduct:  Misrepresenting facts in arrest warrants and offense reports.
Disciplinary Action:  Termination.
Source:  Brady notice provided to Attorney Paul Walcutt by the Travis County Attorney’s office, which he reported to the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
Other Information:  Officer Mangan was also previously suspended for one day for crashing his cruiser (report available here).

Long time no see.

You may have noticed that this blog has suffered from inattention during a long hiatus on the part of yours truly. My absence was caused first by a massive appellate brief, followed immediately by the happy news but typical and unfortunate side effects of expecting my second child. If things go according to plan (knock on wood), I’ll be back on track within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, I created a page for The Pace Law Firm, P.C., on Facebook and have started using it for small updates like no-refusal-weekend announcements, links to news articles of interest, and brief posts about political candidates in the Austin Criminal Justice System (go Charlie Baird!). I expect to continue posting brief updates there but use this forum for more in-depth writing, such as my first (and most popular) post regarding the Lying Cop.