Austin, TX

Will A Pending Criminal Charge Cost Me My Job?

Will A Pending Criminal Charge Cost Me My Job?

I often hear from clients that they are worried they will lose their job when charged with a DWI, Assault, or other crime. Is there any truth to that? In some cases, yes. But not always. In this post, an Austin criminal defense attorney discusses what you can do to keep from losing your job if charged with a misdemeanor or felony.


A Criminal Charge is Not a Conviction

The first thing to realize is that a criminal charge is not a conviction. You are presumed innocent. However, Texas is an at-will state, meaning an employer can fire an employee for almost any reason. It is at the employer’s discretion whether they want to fire you for picking up a criminal charge. But that’s not the end of the discussion. Just because your employer can fire you, doesn’t mean they will.  

Should I Tell My Employer I was Charged with a Crime?

  One of the first decisions to make is whether or not to make your employer aware that you were charged with a crime. While some employers will be notified if something comes up on a criminal history, this is not the norm. Usually, if the employer finds out, it is through rumors, or word-of-mouth. Once they know that something happened, it is fairly easy to find the court records, but if they aren’t looking for it, it might be best not to tell them. Some employers require in their employment contracts that you give them notice if you are charged. In that case, failure to give notice itself could be a fireable offense. In that case, you might be better off giving them notice yourself and dealing with the consequences. Another factor to consider is whether HR even has discretion. If they have certain requirements for insurance purposes, their hands may be tied. They may not be able to keep you on even if they want to keep you working. Get a feel for this situation. If they do have discretion, then it can be worth appealing for you job. More on that later.

The type of Charge Matters

Your employer might be ok with a first time DWI, but other charges might be an immediate termination. A charge involving violence might be more difficult to deal with. If your job involves handling money or putting you in a position of trust, a fraud or theft charge could cost you your job. Each case is different.

What can you Do About it?

There are a number of ways that you can save your job when facing a pending criminal case. In representing my clients, I have often sent a letter to their employed explaining the charge and possible outcomes. I always put my clients in the best possible light. In addition to my support as attorney, I can convey communications from the prosecutor. If my client qualifies for a dismissal track, or if the prosecutor feels like there is not enough evidence to prosecute the case, can convey this to the employer, often by forwarding a message directly from the prosecutor. This can hold more weight than my own statements since I am hired to be an advocate. Often the simple assurance that a pending charge will not turn into a conviction is enough for an employer to keep an employee, especially if he or she has a long history with the company. If, on the other hand, the employee is new to the company or is not a good worker, they may not be so keen to keep the employee when they are charged with a crime.

An Experienced Criminal Attorney Can Help You

Rob Chesnutt is an Austin-based criminal defense attorney. This post is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. However, if you would like legal advice on your situation, you can fill out a contact form for a no-cost case evaluation.
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