Can I sue a background check company for showing I’m a convicted felon when I was only given a misdeamenor?

I was charged and prosecuted in 2008 with a felony UNL CARRY HANDGUN LIC HOL ALCH PREM in court they agreed to lower charge to a misdemeanor UNL CARRY HANDGUN LIC HOL ALCH PREM. I couldn’t get a good job that wanted to hire me in late 2008 after they ran my background also another good job in 2013 not to mention 100 or more jobs that I applied to with not even a call back. You have to check if your a felon or not on job application in Texas I checked no but obviously it showed I was no wonder they never called I thought it was due to the misdemeanor charge both companies in 2008 and 2013 sent me letters saying i couldn’t be hired due to this charge but didnt specify if it was a felony or misdea.- I thought it was just due to the misdemeanor charge. I applied for more jobs this week and found out it shows I’m a convicted felon for that charge, when I’m not my Texas DPS Criminal Record shows whats true I was only convicted of a misdemeanor. Can I file suit against the company if its found that they made the mistake- I’ve had to struggle barely making 20,000 most years since 2008 due to this error. Do all these background companies have the same source of info? Do I have a case?

Asked on May 28, 2016 under Criminal Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether the background check company erred or whether they picked up the information from a credible, but in this case incorrect source, such as if your public records (e.g. the court records) are incorrect. If the public records are right, but the background check company then incorrectly classified your offense as a felony, they may be liable; but if the public recordsa are wrong, they would not be liable, because in that case, they did nothing wrong: they properly relied on a credible source. However, it's possible you may then have a claim against the state.
Your first step: contact the background check company, explain how and why their information is wrong, and ask for their source--where they got their information. Once you know that, take the information about their source to an attorney to discuss in detail whether you have a viable case--and what it might be worth--against the background check company(ies) or even possible against the state, for providing bad information  the first place. But you need more data before you can assess who may be liable.

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