Do I Say 'Yes' on a Background Check for a DUI? Lawyer Says...

Welcome to "Lawyer Says," our new column where JC Law attorneys field real questions asked by Marylanders from various websites around the internet.

This week, our criminal lawyers respond to a nervous new teaching assistant wondering if a decade-old DUI charge really needs to be reported on a background check.

The Question: Do I Have to Report a Decade-Old DUI Charge On an Employer's Background Check?

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Hello!

So after spending weeks fighting with previous employers to fill out Maryland 486 paperwork (I got a job as a teacher assistant in public school system), I am now facing a mountain of paperwork to fill out. The first is an investigative service form. The question is if I have been convicted or charged with any criminal activity.

10 years ago, I was charged with a DUI. Does this count as criminal activity? Should I put yes or no?

The Answer: Generally, Yes, But Maybe No.

On the face of it, yes, this Marylander would need to answer "yes" to the question that they were once charged with any criminal activity.

The form did not ask if you've been accused of a crime in the last year or five years; time was not considered at all! Therefore, it doesn't matter that the DUI charge was made ten years ago.

The fact is, the Marylander was charged with a criminal activity – a DUI – and so, they would need to say "yes."

If they lie and get caught – a likely situation, given that many Marylander's criminal records are basically public knowledge through the online case search – then the employer could dismiss them as soon as the falsehood was discovered.

(Technically, most employers can fire at-will employees without contracts or unions for any legal reason at all. Lying certainly wouldn't help someone's employment status, though.)

However, suppose that the question weren't "charged" but simply "convicted." In that case, this Marylander may have been able to answer "no," assuming they had not plead guilty or received another type of conviction.

For example, if the Marylander had received a probation before judgment or even gotten the charge dismissed, then legally, they were never convicted of the DUI.

Therefore, they can truthfully answer that "no," they have never had a criminal conviction.

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Our automatic disclaimer: We're lawyers, but not necessarily your lawyer, and do not represent the individual who asked this question. We're providing this information for general educational purposes based on the publicly available information provided by the anonymous Internet user. Any number of details may change how this individual's attorney may pursue this legal situation, differently from how we suppose above. If you have a similar question, then you should consult with a lawyer about your specific situation to get a "real" response!