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Welcome to “Lawyer Says,” our new column where [nap_names id=”FIRM-NAME-1″] attorneys field real questions asked by Marylanders from various websites around the internet.

This week, our criminal defense team responds to a newly-hired teaching assistant who’s nervously 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?

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 in some cases, no.

On the face of it, you would need to answer “yes” to the question of whether you’ve been charged or convicted of any criminal activity in the past.

From the information provided, the form didn’t ask if you’d been accused of a crime in the last year or five years; it sounds like time was not considered at all! Therefore, it doesn’t matter if the DUI charge was made ten years ago.

The fact is, you were charged with a criminal activity – a DUI – and so, you would need to say “yes.”

If you were to lie and get caught – a likely situation, given that the criminal records of many Marylanders are basically public knowledge through the online case search system – then the employer could dismiss you as soon as the falsehood was discovered.

(Technically, most employers can fire at-will employees without a contract or a union membership for any legal reason at all. In light of that, lying certainly wouldn’t help someone’s employment status.)

However, suppose that the question weren’t “charged” but simply “convicted.” In that case, you may be able to answer “no,” assuming that you didn’t plead guilty or receive another type of conviction.

For example, if you’d received a probation before judgment, or even gotten the charge dismissed, then legally, you were never convicted of the DUI.

Therefore, you can truthfully answer “no” to that question on the form, as you would never have had a criminal conviction on your record.

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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!