Background screening, does it work?

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In 2005, in a case involving identity theft, a woman was imprisoned for first degree criminal impersonation. The accused first became known to the complainant through her own insurance policy. The complainant had noticed that her insurance rates were increasing but she was not receiving any citations. The complainant later found out through the Department of Licensing, that its records indicated she had been stopped by a state trooper in 2002, failed to appear for her court hearings and her driver’s license had been suspended; see State v. Presba (2005).

Many incidents like this one occur using public databases and often involve financial theft. As a result, background screening as related to citizens’ records is not accurate. In most cases, records found in public databases are incomplete or mixed records. It is a requirement that public databases post only what is allowable by law and post indication that information may be inaccurate. However, these warning signs on public database web pages are often ignored.

The complainant in the above case was advantageous enough to obtain video of the traffic related stop and recognized that the woman that appeared in the video was a former friend of hers. However, there is a time limit on video related to such cases. Video evidence, like paper evidence can be lost, tampered with or be inadmissible; when made too accessible.

Criminal impersonation has been re-classified as a felony; see State v. Gentry (1995). In this case, the accused was an accountant and also a former Mayor. The accused was hired by a homeowner’s association which expressly did not allow him access to their funds for personal use or for other investments. The court record states, ” the defendant obtained control over US currency in an amount exceeding $5000, this currency belonging to another, by color or aid of deception, and with the intent to deprive such other of this property.”

Understanding your rights

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.004(c) allots a four-year statute of limitations for debt collection related to broken written or unwritten contracts. The Tex. Bus & Com. Code §3.118(a) allots a six-year statute of limitations on promissory notes. If no demand for payment is made to the debtor, an action to enforce the note is barred if neither principal nor interest on the note has been paid for a continuous period of 10 years. Items for debt collection have to be valid and filed by a verifiable creditor. Payment to the alleged debtor also has to be proven by the creditor in their filing for debt collection.

State agencies like Department of Licensing are not considered creditors to citizens’ financial accounts. In traffic citation cases, as in most like cases, the citizen(s) pays bond fees, court costs, and fines related to those violations. A citizen’s signature on a traffic citation is not an admission of guilt. The only contract that exists is the bond and agreement to pay assessed fines which require the citizen’s signature(s). If there is attorney involvement, the citizen’s attorney has limited authority to apply his signature as witness to his client’s agreement. This limited authority can only be provided through a contract made by the citizen with his representing attorney.

In cases which involve arrest, it is important to understand that an arrest is not a conviction. Even if a person spends time in jail, a case against that person may be dismissed or granted appeal. Do not be fooled by arrest record databases, many of these databases do not have real mugshots in them. Often the person’s picture being utilized is used illegally for marketing value. They are taken from passport photos, company identification cards and other graphic sources.

Camera enforcement for traffic signals also uses a similar marketing strategy which applies any citizen’s license plate to a vehicle as record. Camera enforcement at traffic signals requires front and rear license plates and registration to be shown in the video.

On June 3, 2019, the Texas Governor signed HB 1631 which prohibits camera enforcement of this type. The text is found in Chapter 707 of the Transportation Code by added sections 707.020 and 707.021. The amended heading for the chapter reads as “Photographic Traffic Signal Enforcement System Prohibited.”

Tex.Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art 12.01 et seq.
Felonies in Texas under this statute that are directly a concern to businesses include:

Offenses related to theft by a fiduciary – 10 years
Theft by a public servant of government property – 10 years
Misapplication of fiduciary property – 7 years
Securing execution of a document by deception – 7 years
Money laundering – 7 years
Credit card or debit card abuse – 7 years
Fraudulent use or possession of identifying information – 7 years
Medicaid fraud – 7 years
Theft or robbery – 5 years
Kidnapping or burglary – 5 years
Injury to an elderly or disabled individual – 5 years
Insurance fraud – 5 years

Tex.Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art 12.02 et seq.
Misdemeanors in Texas under this statute states:

“(a) An indictment or information for any Class A or Class B misdemeanor may be presented within two years from the date of the commission of the offense, and not afterward. (b) A complaint or information for any Class C misdemeanor may be presented within two years from the date of the commission of the offense, and not afterward.”

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