We receive calls quite often about cases that have been Dismissed, and the caller asks "Why is the case still showing up on my criminal background checks?"
Unfortunately for those who have their case Dismissed, Texas Law requires an extra step to have the case stop appearing on Background Reports; called Expunction.
Basically put, a Dismissal is NOT equal to an Expunction.
A dismissal merely means that the criminal proceeding has been terminated, and has not resulted in a Conviction. Now, this is GREAT for many people who don't need to worry about background checks or criminal history reports.
But a case that has been dismissed will still show up on a backgroundcheck. Let me repeat that: A CASE THAT HAS BEEN DISMISSED WILL STILL SHOW UP ON A BACKGROUND CHECK.
The only way to try and keep even a Dismissal from the public is to have a Judge sign a Petition for an Expunction.
An Expunction is where a Judge Orders the agencies holding your records to destroy the records of you arrest and of the case. This includes Police records, Court records, and DPS records (and more).
How can a Texas Expunction help me? In Texas, even an arrest or citation show up on your criminal history. A Dismissal is not the same as an Expunction -- Expunction is an additional step. Individuals that have an Expunction granted can legally deny the arrest and subsequent court proceedings ever occurred. The Court's Order will also demand any State agency with the records to destroy them within one year. This includes private businesses that purchased the Criminal Offense Records from DPS. Additionally, having your offenses Expunged can help you get and keep a job by removing traces of the offense from your record.
What are the drawbacks of an Expunction? An Expunction clears State offenses from State and private agencies only. That means Federal Agencies, such as the FBI and Homeland Security can ignore a Texas Judge's Order. Up until the year 2000, the federal agencies tended to comply anyway, however presently it is unknown whether the FBI and federal agencies comply with an Expunction Order in any way. Texas DPS does send a notice of the Expunction to the FBI, but little to nothing is known concerning what the FBI does with with information.
What are my other options? An Expunction is the best way to clear your criminal record; it efficiently and completely erased all State records of the arrest and court proceedings. If your case was dismissed, then Expunction is the way to go.
A rash of bike thefts in Austin, Travis County (and probably many major cities) has prompted Austin Police Department to focus on Bike Theft crimes downtown, by leaving high priced bicycles at street poles, fences, and sidewalks across the city -- unlocks and unguarded.
Many of these "bait bikes" are left on Campus at UT, and all are equipped with a tracking GPS linked to Austin Police computers.
While some might be locked with a cheap chain or other minor security measure, many are merely leaning against a bike rack, or wrapped to a light pole by an unlocked bike chain.
So what happens when someone decides to take one of the expensive, new bikes? Well, Austin Police tracks the movement and and swoop in for a Theft Arrest. And, since the bike is expensive (typically around $650-800), and since they include the price of the GPS unit which is attached to the bike (and likewise stolen -- valued at nearly $400), the grand total of the Theft gets the person to a Class A Misdemeanor Bike Theft.
So the first thing people say, is: Entrapment! Unfortunately, Entrapment is a very narrow defense, meaning it's only available in a few cases. Theft in the above described situation would NOT be able to take advantage of Entrapment, because, put simply, the person was free to merely walk away. There was no trap that forced the person to act illegally; instead, the legal course of action would have been to keep walking, which the person was free to do.
A potential defense, although not a good one, could also be Abandoned Property. The problem is that an Abandoned Property Defense requires the person finding the property to do several things BEFORE taking the item, such as (among other things) trying to find the rightful owner. While an Abandoned Property defense could work, more information and investigation would be needed to show that there was no Theft.
The best option, now that you know the dangers of Bait Bikes, is to avoid the bike at all costs.