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.

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