What Are Pending Charges?
In general, a pending criminal charge means the time period after arrest, but before your case has gone to trial. Many people think that a pending criminal charge will not show on a pre-employment background checks, but unfortunately that’s not the case. While you may get a few weeks reprieve, typically the alleged crime will show up within a few weeks.
If you are seeking employment, or if your employer conducts regular screening for pending cases, you might be in trouble. If you’re facing a pending criminal charge, you can contact us for a free consultation with an experienced Austin Criminal Defense Attorney.
An Arrest is Just the Start of the Process
Unless you are facing a Class C Misdemeanor or a “Cite and Release” Charge (see below), the pending criminal charge begins with an arrest. The arresting police officer will turn over the information to the prosecutor, who will decide whether or not to accept the charge. Even if the prosecutor rejects the pending charges referred to him, you will still need to get it removed from your criminal records with an expunction.
If you don’t get it expunged, the pending charge on a criminal background check will show as an arrest and a dismissal. Workplace discrimination for a criminal history is premissible in Texas, so there is the chance that it could cost you your job.
Can I have Pending Criminal Charges Even if I Wasn’t Arrested?
It’s possible to have a pending charge even if you were not arrested. This is usually only going to be the case for low-level misdemeanors. Class C misdemeanors are on par with traffic tickets, but also include non-traffic offenses like disorderly conduct, minor assault, etc. Class C misdemeanors do not include jail time, so you might be given a citation for these. Also, for certain low-level class B misdemeanors, you may be released even though jail time is a possibility for these charges.
Either way, you will have a pending criminal charge that you will need to deal with. If you don’t handle it by attending court, there is the chance that it could turn into a warrant.
Do Pending Charges Show on Criminal Background Checks?
Although class C misdemeanors may not appear on a background check, class B or above certainly will. You may be thinking to yourself – “But I haven’t been convicted – how can it already be showing?” Unfortunately, a pending charge can show even if wrongfully accused. The only way to remove it from background checks is later with an expunction or nondisclosure.
How much time does it take for pending charges to show up?
The time it takes for pending criminal charges to actually show on your criminal record will vary. It depends on the processing time in your county. I’ve seen pending charges show up within 3 days, and I’ve seen it take a month or longer. In general, it’s safe to assume that a pending criminal charge will begin showing on background checks within several weeks. You can always check your own criminal history at identogo.com.
What to do if You Receive a Pending Criminal Charge?
A pending criminal charge is not something to take lightly. Your best bet is to seek out an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A criminal lawyer can help in many ways including writing a letter to your employer to help you save your job, gather evidence to defend you, answer your legal questions, and of course, fight the case in the court system. Whether you decide to take the case to a trial verdict, or end it in a plea agreement, an experienced lawyer is going to help you make the best decision for your circumstance.
How Do Employers Treat Pending Criminal Charges?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this question. Employment discrimination is basically ok in Texas – that is – unless the employer is discriminating on the basis of a protected class, they can fire or choose not to hire for almost any reason. Certain areas of employment are going to be ok with a pending charge. Many blue collar jobs – even blue collar positions paying good money – will be ok with imperfect background checks.
However, if a pending charge means the employer’s insurance will take a hit, this can be a deal-breaker for most employers facing a hiring decision. Employers do not have to let the court process play out before making a decision. They can fire you on the spot for alleged criminal activity.
Do Pending Charges Disappear From Criminal Background Checks When the Case is Dismissed?
No, criminal charges do no disappear from background checks. Although the case is concluded after a dismissal, the criminal charges still appear. If the case is dismissed, you’re likely eligible for expunction, which will remove all record of the arrest and allow you to deny that you were ever arrested. Find out more about expunctions here.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor charges pending
In a lot of ways, the process here is the same whether dealing with a felony or misdemeanor. Felonies will need to go to a grand jury for an a indictment, while a misdemeanor criminal charge can be filed in county courts directly by the prosecutor with an information. Of course felony charges represent a more serious situation, as a conviction can have serious consequences not present for misdemeanors. But, at the stage where you show a pending charge, the process is roughly the same.
ATX Legal Handles Criminal Charges in Central Texas
If you’ve been arrested, it doesn’t mean you are guilty. Most criminal situations can be fought or mitigated by a good criminal defense lawyer. ATX Legal is based in Austin and handles cases in Travis, Hays and Williamson counties.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation on Pending Charges
Text 512-677-5003 or fill out a contact form for a no-cost consultation with an Austin criminal lawyer. We can discuss whether or not there is likely enough evidence for a conviction, practical next steps, and likely outcomes in your case at no charge.