The 5 Most Common Questions I get as a Criminal Defense Lawyer: #1 “Am I Going to Jail?”

March 12, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Most people vastly over-estimate their jail possibilities.  I spend a good deal of time explaining why things are nearly as bad they may seem.

Our minds tend to link together what I call “the chain of terribles.”  That is we take one terrible result, and infer another logical awful result, and then another and another and another.  But this is almost never realistic.

Let me give you an example — at the time I write this blog, the Coronavirus is exploding across the world.  The NBA just suspended their regular season.  Part of my mind wants to suggest the world economy will crash (the dow is down 20% from a month ago), my law practice will go down the tubes with the economy, there will be widespread disease and then famine, the NBA will never play again, and the survivors of the virus will have to barricade themselves from zombies in makeshift houses.

That is the chain of terribles.  But I’m guessing if you read this even 6 months from now, you’ll see how ridiculous my conclusions were.

The same thing happens when people consider jail.  They’ve typically already been arrested and have bonded out — and they want to know “will it happen again?”  A perfectly understandable and valid question.  Those fears are often fueled by lawyers and their webpages trying to scare you into hiring them.

Jail exposure is obviously on a case-by-case basis which includes tons of variables such as the nature of the charge, mitigating factors, what county is prosecuting the charge, criminal history, the specific prosecutor, judge, etcetera, etcetera, etc…

Understand a handful of factors which, in general, reduce inmate population.

  • Running a jail is money-losing proposition.  It is a hotel where no one pays.  Most counties don’t want to feed you and house you if they don’t have to.
  • Most judges and prosectors believe in rehabilitation.  Very few will stop someone from getting help they need to manage substance issues which frequently contribute.
  • There is a much better understanding of anxiety, depression, and other maladies which can contribute to someone’s predicament.
  • Finally — it’s your lawyers job to effectively tell your story — and everyone typically has a good one.

Bottom line: If you’re like everyone else – then you’ve probably exaggerated your own jail chances.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  He is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Criminal law.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.

 

 


The Most Common Question I’m Asked as a Criminal Defense Lawyer #2: “Will My Work Find Out?”

March 6, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

I notice when something embarrassing happens in my life, It feels like everyone around me knows and they just aren’t talking about it.  It’s a weird phenomenon.  Surely people will find out eventually if they don’t know at the moment, right?  Then I remind myself the planet doesn’t revolve around me and most people don’t spend all day wondering about my life.

I know my clients go through the same thing.  Every morning the Courthouse is filled with hundreds of people — all of whom assume everyone is looking at them knowing their deepest darkest secret of why they are there.

But people typically only know what we tell them.  And even then they only listen part of the time.

Your workplace is usually no exception.  Unless your workplace is directly wired into to government databases about arrests (and some are), there is usually no way they’d become aware of an arrest absent some obvious indication.  Background checks are expensive and private companies typically don’t order them just to order them.

Here’s the better question — does your employee handbook require you to report an arrest?  Texas is what is called an “at-will” state for employment.  That means you can be hired, fired, promoted or demoted for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all.  If you have the duty under your handbook to report an arrest and you don’t then you’ve put your head on the employer’s chopping block.  Then again, they occasion of your arrest may get you canned just the same.  What to do?

Sometimes the answer as to whether to disclose an arrest to an employer just comes down to faith and trust your employer will hear someone out and treat them fairly.  It can absolutely be a case by case basis.

But to answer the original question — employers typically don’t know about the vast majority of arrests.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of Texas and is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is designated as a 2019 Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters, Inc.  Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice.


5 Most Common Questions I’m Asked: #3 “What Will Show Up on a Background Check After My Arrest?”

March 2, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

What does a criminal history or background check show right after someone is arrested? To know this, we have to understand how a criminal background check works in the first place.

How Does a Criminal Background Check Work?

The Government’s Role

The government keeps your criminal history including arrests and the outcome of those arrests.  They do it through two main databases in Texas.  One is kept by the FBI called the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and the other is kept by the Texas Department of Public Safety called the TCIC (Texas Crime Information Center).  These databases are not available to the public and access is controlled tightly.

A third source of information is often the county where the criminal case is pending — and some counties are better than others about publishing these materials (and their accuracy).  This information typically is public unlike the TCIC and NCIC.

 

How Can My Work See My Arrest?

The vast majority of background checks are done through private companies such as LexisNexis, publicdata.com, or GoodHire. Those companies are merely re-publishing lists they purchase from the government from TCIC, NCIC or the county of arrest.

In exchange for purchasing the lists, the companies are highly regulated about what information they can publish and for what reasons.

So here’s whats happening: NCIC and/or TCIC sells your information to a company (Like LexisNexis) and your employer buys the information from them in the form of a criminal background check.

 

What Will Show Up and How Quickly?

We have to assume in the information age the database is in real-time or close to it.  The database used to be updated periodically.  This was a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because an arrest wouldn’t show up for weeks or months — and a curse because it would take equally as long to erase if you got your case expunged or non-disclosed.

Basic information is typically available such as the date of the arrest and what the arrest was for.  Once there is a final result such as a dismissal or a guilty plea and there is a sentence imposed it may very well be reflected too.

Some Good News

Criminal background checks aren’t cheap and the employer has to certify they are using it for a valid purpose.  They can’t just do one for the sake of doing one.  If you’ve got a stable job then it’s rare your employer will just run a check out of the blue.  If you’re trying to get a new job or a promotion then a background check is going to be more of an issue.

The Solution

Expunctions and non-disclosures are how we erase or hide criminal cases from the public.  You can read about how those work here.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is licensed in Texas to practice law.  Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice.

 


The 5 Most Common Questions Criminal Lawyers are Asked: #4 Will I Lose My License?

February 27, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

All licenses are important when you think about it.  It is special permission to do something not everyone else can do.  It could be practicing medicine, driving, or simply possessing a concealed weapon.  Licenses are tickets to livelihoods and they often represent our firewall or Alamo which we’ll have to defend at all costs.

This is a complex question which is obviously going to be case specific in every event.  Each and every license is different and has different triggers to what jeopardizes it.  A DWI is obviously extremely bad news for a pilot.  Drug possession can be very damaging for doctors or nurses.  Intent or fraud crimes can cause a lawyer to lose their license.

Here’s what I can say about protecting a license — we use the “carpenter’s rule.”  That is we “measure twice and cut once.”

Generally speaking licensing agencies tend to be very thorough which is typically good for our clients.  That’s not a misprint.  It’s good for our clients because the truth typically works.  Some agencies will draw a hard line in the sand when it comes to criminal cases or guilty pleas but most want to hear the full story… and that gives us the opportunity to show them our situation isn’t as bad as they think.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an Attorney Licensed to Practice in Texas.  He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.


The 5 Most Common Questions I Get – #5 “Can I Travel After I’ve Been Arrested?”

February 26, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

I’ve met with thousands of people facing criminal charges.  The vast majority visiting my office have been through the humbling trauma of an arrest.  This series is about the most common questions I’m asked.

Question #5 — Can I Travel After I’ve Been Arrested?

If you’ve been arrested and are released on bond — the answer is normally “yes.”  The whole point of going to jail then being released on bond is to assure you show up to face the charges against you.  If criminal court was voluntary – no one would go.

But understand travel is relative.  Your bondsman and the court care much less if you’re going on business to Texarkana than if you are going on business to Dubai.

My office is in Collin County.  We have a very international populace here.  It isn’t uncommon at all to have people who travel the globe either for business or to visit family… so this topic is frequent enough to be in my top 5.

Travel can be restricted one of three ways.  First, the Court can restrict your travel as what is known as a “term and condition of bond.”  This means it is the Court itself ordering you either to remain in the county where you are charged (or in neighboring counties).  Some counties are stricter than others.  You know who you are (Tarrant!) If the Court has ordered you to surrender your passport then clearly you’re prohibited from leaving the US.  These cases tend to be reserved for more serious allegations.

A second way travel can be restricted is by your bail bondsman.  When you use a bondsman you have entered into a private contract.  In that contract, you may or may not have agreed to remain in a certain area.  Few people read the fine print of the contract with a bondsman as travel tends to be a low concern when getting out of jail – but your bondsman can have you re-arrested if you like to travel without approval.

The third way travel can be restricted is by the place you’re going.  I’ve not encountered problems in other US states – and I don’t know what the law says in other countries.  A foreign country might not let you in based on your arrest alone.

Bottom line — you are usually going to be fine to travel facing the majority of state charges.  Travel should always be a situation where you ask for permission and not forgiveness.  It obviously doesn’t hurt to ask, though, if you’re not sure.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is licensed to practice by the State Bar of Texas.  Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice.  For legal advice you should contact an attorney directly.