Effect of Expunction and Nondisclosure Orders on Private Companies
There are hundreds of companies like publicdata.com that buy and sell criminal records for fees from Texas counties for a fee, from the Department of Public Safety and other private companies. It is very easy for a potential employer or a snooping relative or friend to go on-line and buy your record from one of these companies for a fee. It is big business for these private companies. If you have your criminal record expunged or nondisclosed these private criminal record buying companies are supposed to destroy the records. The Texas legislature has finally added penalties for the private companies failure to remove the criminal records after expunction or nondislosure if those companies buy records from the Department of Public Safety including civil liability and also refusal to sell records to those companies. Some private companies may still fall through loopholes and will therefore not remove the history.
Government Code Sec. 411.0851 states that (a) A private entity that compiles and disseminates for compensation criminal history record information shall destroy and may not disseminate any information in the possession of the entity with respect to which the entity has received notice that:
(1) an order of expunction has been issued under Article 55.02, Code of Criminal Procedure; or
(2) an order of nondisclosure has been issued under Section 411.081(d) or (f-1).
(b) Unless the entity is regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. Section 1681 et seq.) or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (15 U.S.C. Sections 6801 to 6809), a private entity described by Subsection (a) that purchases criminal history record information from the department or from another governmental agency or entity in this state:
(1) may disseminate that information only if, within the 90-day period preceding the date of dissemination, the entity:
(A) originally obtains that information; or
(B) receives that information as updated record information to its database; and
(2) shall notify the department if the entity sells any compilation of the information to another similar entity.
(c) A private entity that disseminates information in violation of this section is liable for any damages that are sustained as a result of the violation by the person who is the subject of that information. A person who prevails in an action brought under this section is also entitled to recover court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
Sec. 411.0835 of the Government Code prohibits dissemination to the private companies that fail to follow the law, but unfortunately the law does not have a big enough penalty. If the department receives information indicating that a private entity that purchases criminal history record information from the department has been found by a court to have committed three or more violations of Section 552.1425 by compiling or disseminating information with respect to which an order of expunction or an order of nondisclosure has been issued, the department may not release any criminal history record information to that entity until the first anniversary of the date of the most recent violation.