What are my options if a mistake listed on a previous misdemeanor case is preventing me from getting employment?

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What are my options if a mistake listed on a previous misdemeanor case is preventing me from getting employment?

The case information shows that I served 180 days in jail. I did not serve any time in jail; I only did 1 year probation. That is why I can’t get employment because of the supposed jail time. Could it be a mistake that can be overturned?

Asked on January 17, 2016 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You need to do three different things.  The first is to start with the source and make sure that the clerk of the court where your probation was entered has your information correctly reported on their screens.  Any agency or company that is reporting your history to an employer is obtain their data (directly or indirectly) from the clerk of the court... so you need to go visit with the clerk and confirm that they are reporting your data correctly.
If they are reporting the data correctly, then you need to make sure the state data base is reporting the info correctly.  The Texas Department of Public Safety is the central reporting agency for Texas.  Every clerk of the court (felony or misdemeanor) are supposed to report any criminal history data to the DPS to be included in their central data base.  You can go to their website and run a basic criminal history search on yourself to confirm whether or not they are reporting your data correctly.  If they are not reporting your data correctly, then they have procedures online where you can dispute any inaccurate reporting.
Finally...you also want to contact the company that is reporting the data to employers.  Depending on your employer, they may be obtaining the data from DPS or a private entity that paid for a bulk set of data from the DPS or the clerk of the court.  If the reporting company is a private company, they are required to provide you with a dispute form to challenge the inaccurate reporting of any data.  These forms are very similar to reporting inaccurate reporting on a regular credit report.  If you don't notify them of the inaccurate reporting, then they will not be able to fix the errors.
You mention that they are reporting that you did a probation, not 180 days.  It is possible that someone with an employer is mis-reading a report.  If you were on deferred, then you were never convicted.  However, if you were on a strait probation, then you were sentenced to some county time probated for one year while you did your probation.  Often, employers think this means that the person did 180 days-- when it just means that it was the potential sentence... not actual sentence.  You may need to educate future employers on the difference.


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