Criminal Law Blog
Criminal Law Blog
An increasingly important point with employers are background checks on prospective employees. Not only can employers interested in credit related information but they are also interested in criminal background information. There is a ton of information on the internet regarding background checks in Texas, and unfortunately there is also a ton of misinformation there as well. The purpose of today's blog post is to clarify some of the Texas rules regarding Texas employer background checks, and what employers can legally see.
The Purpose of a Background Check
Usually employers with the power to hire and fire have a large stake in their decision. Not only do they have a responsibility to do what is best for the company, or face retribution by their superiors and a guilty conscience, but they must also protect the business and want to hire someone who is responsible and trustworthy. If you were in an employer's shoes, would you hire an employee who will be working around kids and who has a record for committing a sexual assault against a child or someone who doesn't? If you owned a store, would you rather hire someone with a long record full of theft convictions or one without? Another good reason for employee background checks are the responsibility that an employer can face if something goes wrong as a result of hiring a certain employee. For example, if a truck driving company hires someone who has a record of driving recklessly then the truck driver subsequently causes damage on the job as a result of reckless driving then it is possible that the truck driving company could be deemed to have been negligent in hiring the driver and could be held liable for damages.
Although hiring employees that are less likely to harm a business and the avoidance of potential damages down the line as a result of an employee are good reasons for running employee background checks, not all people with adverse events or deeds on their record make bad employees, and unchecked criminal background checks can create a virtual brick wall in obtaining employment for certain people, hindering their ability to provide for themselves and their families. For these reasons and others, there are legal limitations on how Texas employers can use background checks.
Texas Rules Regarding Background Checks
In general, when an employer in Texas uses a credit reporting agency to conduct the background check then they can only go back seven years for a criminal background check, unless the annual salary reaches $75,000. In that case, they can go back as far as when the prospective employee was eighteen. Also, it is noteworthy that convictions when a person was under eighteen are not to be used by employers in a hiring decision even if they are found. In many cases, the are never found. There are exceptions to this general rule and the seven year rule is not carved in stone.
Exceptions to the Rule
If you are applying for a job that involves residential delivery, such as a mail/package carrier, or that provides in home services, such as a plumber or electrician etc., (there are many different types of jobs that fall into this category and they are not all listed here), then an employer is required to conduct a check for certain felonies in the last twenty years and misdemeanors in the last ten years. This includes convictions for crimes involving family violence, crimes against property, and public indecency, even if the case was disposed with deferred adjudication. The employer is not required to do this if they can show that a state occupational licensing agency has already conducted a background check for the same purpose, and the prospective employee is licensed by that agency.
When the Seven Year Rule Doesn't Apply
The seven year rule only applies when a prospective employer hires an outside consumer reporting agency to conduct the background check. If an employer does there own background check then they can go as far back as they want, due to the difficulty in performing background checks most employers tend to hire an outside help to perform the task, of course, that is not always the case. Government agencies are permitted under Texas law to conduct background checks all the way back to when a person was eighteen.
Arrest Records, Deferred Adjudication, and Probation
If you were convicted of a crime, placed on probation, or made a plea of no contest or guilty, then the employer will be able to see that on a background check. On the other hand, if the case was dismissed without any finding of guilt then it should not show up on the employee background check.
An arrest record is less likely to show up on a background check, but sometimes they do. Texas law does not prohibit the use of arrest records in an employment decision, but federal law makes it very difficult to justify doing so, and for this reason many employers don't use arrest records as a basis in a hiring decision.
Conclusion and How to Get Help
If you have a criminal history and you are concerned about it showing up on an employee background check then you should try to get the offense or offenses expunged or obtain an order of non-disclosure. This is not always going to be possible, and if you cannot get an expungement or an order of non-disclosure then it is likely that the offenses will show up on the background check. In such a case you should be honest with the employer, explain the situation, and keep trying.
If you are interested in obtaining an expungement or an order of non-disclosure then the Law Office of Chad Zubi offers a free consultation and you can make an appointment by calling 832-777-8924 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most people don't know that a charge of shoplifting can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the value of the goods taken from the store. If you or a loved one has been charged with shoplifting then it is important to understand the laws surrounding the charge, where they can be found, and to have a qualified attorney working on your case. Call Chad Zubi for a free and confidential consultation.
Laws on Shoplifting in Texas
The state of Texas considers shoplifting to be a form of theft and the laws regarding the crime are found in Title 7, Chapter 31 of the Texas Penal Code. In general, theft is committed when a person "unlawfully takes or appropriates property with the intent to deprive the true owner of that property." If you have the owner's consent then you may not have committed theft, also, if you accept or take something and you know is stolen then you can be liable for theft. There are various other examples of theft like changing price tags at a store to pay a lower price, writing a bad check, or simply taking something from a store without paying for it. There is no such thing as a five finger discount.
Punishments for Shoplifting in Texas
The punishment for shoplifting in Texas can vary dramatically depending on the value of the goods taken and if the crime charged is a felony or misdemeanor. The punishment can vary from a class C misdemeanor (when the value of the goods taken were under $50) punishable by a fine of up to $500 all the way up to a first degree felony (when the goods taken were valued over $200,000) which carries a punishment of up to $10,000 in fines and 5-99 years in jail. If you are a minor then your parent or guardian could also be liable for significant monetary damages and if you are an adult then you could also be liable yourself for expensive monetary damages. It is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney to assess what exactly you are facing in your specific case and to try to minimize any consequences.
Handling the Charges in Your Shoplifting Case
If you or a loved one has been charged with shoplifting then it is important to understand any legal defenses to the crime that you may have. A dismissal or a lower charge may be obtainable with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Chad Zubi. The ultimate goal is dismissal, but Chad Zubi may also be able to get the charges reduced, helping to avoid jail time, by working out a plea bargain with the prosecutor. A plea bargain is when in exchange for a plea of guilty to a lesser charge, the prosecutor lowers the charge or punishment. This is beneficial to the prosecutor because there will be no need for a trial. Each case is unique so call today for your free case evaluation. It is possible that some cases will go to trial and the best strategy for that depends on the specific facts of the case.
Dismissal is sometimes a possibility if you qualify for a pretrial diversion program offered in some counties. Pretrial diversion programs are designed for first time offenders of low level crimes and the offender has to complete certain requirements, such as counseling, or community service for a period of time and if all of the requirements are met then the case will be dismissed. Pretrial diversion programs can also lead to a person being able to have the offense expunged from their criminal record. Expungement is when a criminal charge is completely taken off a person's criminal record and this can be very valuable in future job searches or educational opportunities where the job or opportunity requires a criminal background check. To find out if you qualify for a pretrial diversion program contact the Law Office of Chad Zubi to set up a free and confidential consultation.
You can see that it is important to have a qualified criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the law and criminal procedure to handle your shoplifting case. Don't delay, getting a criminal defense attorney is one of the smartest things you can do to help yourself get your life back.
For the most part, the handling of sexual harassment in the workplace cases takes place in a civil forum, and is no doubt serious. However, their is no criminal complaint involved. Of course, that is not always the case, and sometimes the behavior in question can rise to the level of criminal activity. First, let's have a discussion about sexual harassment claims in general and then let's talk about how sexual harassment at work can rise to the level of being a serious crime.
Sexual harassment cases in the workplace are governed by both federal and state law. Under federal law sexual harassment is considered gender discrimination and is prohibited under Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Texas, sexual harassment claims are contemplated by the Texas Workforce Commission and can be committed by a male or a female, the offense does not necessarily have to be committed by someone of the opposite sex or by a fellow employee. Further, the harassing behavior does not have to be directed at a particular individual for that individual to be affected and to consequently be able to file a complaint. The TWC considers such things as unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or physical touching of a sexual nature as examples of sexual harassment. Not every offensive act falls under the TWC definition of what may be sexual harassment. The offensive behavior generally must interfere with the person's performance at work or create a hostile, offensive, or intimidating environment. Simple teasing or isolated incidents will not likely rise to the level of sexual harassment as contemplated by the TWC.
How Does a Sexual Harassment Claim Start?
In Texas there is more than one way to report a sexual harassment claim. A complaint can be filed with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division or through the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there can also be administrative hearings that are held by an employer.
When is a Crime Committed?
As you can see above, thus far there has been no mention of jail time, an indictment, plea bargains, a criminal trial, or other matters related to criminal prosecution. That is because sexual harassment claims are largely civil lawsuits. However, sometimes sexual harassment rises to the level of criminal, such as in the case of sexual assault or rape. That type of behavior is more than the sexual harassment described in the preceding paragraphs, and should be reported to the police. Some other examples of criminal charges that can arise as a result of sexual harassment include, but are not necessarily limited to, sexual assault, criminal assault, or assault. These are serious crimes that can arise out of sexual harassment and can carry serious penalties, including jail time, having to register as a sex offender, having trouble finding employment, and not being able to own a firearm.
Have You Been Accused of a Crime Related to Sexual Harassment?
If you have been accused of a crime related to sexual harassment then you should contact a criminal defense attorney to mount a defense immediately; the consequences of such an accusation or criminal charge can be extremely serious and long lasting.
The Law Office of Chad Zubi stands ready to listen to your side of the story and provide a free consultation regarding your case. Don't waste valuable time, call and make an appointment at (832) 777-8924.
Other Articles you May be Interested In:
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime or are being investigated for a crime you may have no idea what, when, or how the criminal case against you will move forward. You may have many questions, like: "What happens at the trial?" ; How do I know if I have been charged with a crime?" ; "What is the next step?" ; "Can my case get dismissed?" ; "Can I make a plea bargain?". It is important for you to understand the basic anatomy of a criminal case so that you can mount the best defense possible and so that, hopefully, you can gain some peace of mind by knowing where you are in the criminal justice process. Although it is great to be informed, if you have have been charged with a crime or are being investigated for one, then you should seriously consider hiring a Houston criminal defense lawyer to help secure your rights to the fullest extent possible and to avoid the many possible missteps that can occur by representing yourself in this complicated process.
Law Enforcement Investigation
The first step in charging someone with a crime is the investigation by law enforcement officers. Law enforcement must have probable cause that you have committed a crime before they can arrest you. There are various ways that police officers, looking for probable cause, can conduct a criminal investigation, including, but not limited to: interrogations, witness interviews, search warrants, and the seizure of property. Once probable cause exists then an arrest will be made. It is worth offering a word of caution, if you are being investigated for a crime then don't wait until you have been arrested to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Having a lawyer in your corner during the investigation stage can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case later on.
After law enforcement officers feel that they have probable cause that you have committed a crime then they will arrest you. After your arrest you will be taken to a jail or other holding facility and you will go through the booking process. During the booking you will have your fingerprints and your photograph taken and you will most likely be asked to submit to some form of questioning by police. It is wise that you remain silent and make it clear that you would like to have an attorney present before you submit to any form of questioning. It is your constitutional right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during police questioning.
Initial Appearance the Arraignment and Setting of Bail
The arraignment is the first court appearance that you and your lawyer, if you hired one, will make in the case and it is at this time that the formal criminal charges will be filed against you. This hearing is very brief and the judge will confirm your identity and inform you of the charges and take your plea to the crime. The three possible pleas are not guilty, guilty, and no contest. Most defendants plea not guilty at this phase so that there is time for their attorney to conduct an investigation and mount a defense to the crime charged. If you plead guilty at the arraignment then you will move to sentencing. At your arraignment hearing the judge will set your bail allowing you the opportunity to get out of jail while the process moves forward. You will also get another future court date that you must attend.
Pretrial Hearings and Plea Bargains
All phases of the criminal justice process are very important, but this stage in the prosecution and defense of crimes can have a profound impact on how your case ends. Almost all criminal cases end in a plea bargain and never go to trial. During pretrial hearings your attorney and the prosecutor will talk about the strengths and weaknesses in the case against you. They will also talk about whether you have a previous criminal record, your character, and any reasons that you may have had for committing the crime if you did it. Your lawyer may also choose to file certain pretrial motions. The prosecution and the defense may agree to dismiss the case, a certain sentencing, or pleading guilty to a lesser charge. What happens during these discussions with the defense and the prosecutor rely heavily on the facts and circumstances that surround your specific criminal case. If no plea bargain is reached then the case will proceed to trial.
After pleading not guilty then the case proceeds to trial where a jury or judge will decide after examining the testimony, argument, and evidence, whether they believe beyond a reasonable doubt that you have committed the crime. The length of the trial can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case. A typical criminal jury trial begins with the selection of the jury. Each side has a particular number of peremptory challenges to potential jurors. A peremptory challenge is a challenge that can be made for no reason at all. Challenges to jurors for cause are made when a potential juror has some reason why they cannot hear and decide the facts of the case fairly. After the jury has been selected then the prosecutor will put on their presentation of the case including, but not limited to, witness testimony, camera footage, and any other relevant evidence they have. After that the defense will put on their presentation and try to show why the prosecution's case is a weak one. This can happen by cross examining witnesses for the prosecution, examining defense witnesses, and presenting evidence that negates guilt. After all of that the prosecution and the defense will make closing arguments and the judge or jury will then deliberate as to guilt or innocence.
If the judge or jury finds you not guilty then your case comes to an end. If you are found guilty and convicted of the crime charged then the sentencing phase begins. During the sentencing phase the judge will consider your character, whether you feel any remorse, your past criminal history, and all of the circumstances surrounding the case including, but not limited to the severity of the crime committed. In general, judges use pre set guidelines to determine what particular sentences should be.
If you have been found guilty and sentenced for a crime then you are entitled to at least one appeal of the verdict to a higher court. In Texas the Court of Appeals, the first level of appellate courts will examine the case to see if there have been any procedural mistakes that have been made and this appellate court may overturn the decision of the lower trial court.
This is just a basic outline of the criminal court process in Texas and is not to be construed as legal advice. If you have been charged with a crime then you should set up a consultation with a Houston criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Chad Zubi to help you mount a strong defense and avoid missteps in procedure along the way.
Other blog posts you may be interested in:
Sometimes a police official or other government official contacts you regarding a crime or event and that in and of itself might lead you to believe that you need legal counsel. You may be right, so how do you know if you are?
If a police officer shows up at your home or workplace and starts asking you questions about a crime or event then it is not certain, but entirely possible, that you are or will become a suspect. This is true even if you are not a suspect at the outset of the questioning and have not been arrested. You should not assume that the police are always going to be completely honest with you and sometimes in the course of their investigation they say whatever they think is necessary to get you to say what they want to hear. It could be that you are not a suspect and the officer or official is just conducting an investigation. That could change at any time and you should keep that in mind if you choose to speak with police without a lawyer present.
It is often a wise choice to tell a questioning officer that you would like to have an attorney present before answering any questions. A criminal defense attorney that is worth their salt will work diligently to help you avoid self incriminating yourself when being questioned by police. You should understand that insisting on having an attorney present during talks with the police is not an admission of guilt.
If you have actually been charged with a crime then it is definitely a sound decision to hire a good defense lawyer to mount a proper defense. If you have been charged with a crime then it is wise to request that an attorney be present before you agree to answer any questions. Do not be afraid to stay silent. A good criminal attorney can help make sure that you are not giving up valuable rights and that police or the prosecutor stays within the bounds of the law in gathering and presenting argument and evidence against you. Criminal defendants without attorneys very often say things that get them into deeper trouble than they were before they started speaking.
It is very important that you have a lawyer who understands the many rules that surround criminal procedure and other rules that govern the prosecution of criminal cases. You have the right to represent yourself, but that is almost always not a good decision. You need someone in your corner that is accustomed to working with this area of the law and has a strong desire to make sure your rights are not violated.
If you would like to talk to an attorney then give the Law Office of Chad Zubi a call. We can discuss your case confidentially and the initial consultation is free of charge.
Other blog posts you may be interested in: