Answering Q#9 OF 306

When filling out OF-306 for a fedral job, I answered NO to Qn#9 below. I think that is the correct thing to do given my case I detailed below but the security clearance guy came back and said that I should have answered YES and provided details after Background check showed an arrest.

The Question.

  1. During the last 7 years, have you been convicted, been imprisoned, been on probation, or been on parole? (Includes felonies, firearms or explosives violations, misdemeanors, and all other offenses.) If “YES,” use item 16 to provide the date, explanation of the violation, place of occurrence, and the name and address of the police department or court involved.

It also states to answer NO for the following cases:
For questions 9,10, and 11, your answers should include convictions resulting from a plea of nolo contendere (no contest), but omit (1) traffic fines of $300 or less, (2) any violation of law committed before your 16th birthday, (3) any violation of law committed before your 18th birthday if
finally decided in juvenile court or under a Youth Offender law, (4) any conviction set aside under the Federal Youth Corrections Act or similar state law, and (5) any conviction for which the record was expunged under Federal or state law.

My case:

I have been arrested once but the DA rejected the case outright. I have not been charged with any crime, nor did i go to court. The laws of California allow for the arrest to be automatically downgraded to detention and all records be erased. I got a detention certificate that will prove that and also have the case rejection letter from the DA.

Given this I did not think at all that I should have answered YES to it because the question asks for convictions only, and infact specifically says to list only convictions and not arrests that didn’t lead to anything. Techinically i wasn’t even arrested (but detained) and never charged with anything. Why am I being asked to answer to the question as YES and provide details when the form says otherwise. I am puzzled by this but I did fill out the second form as YES and gave them the “detention certificate” and “case rejection letter”. However, when I was asked to fill out the second OF-306, it was kind of suggested that I was not truthful – which is not the case as far as I understand. I have thought about answering Qn9 before deciding in the first place, and when I realized that the paper specifically says to not list arrests (only convictions) I decided to answer NO.

If somebody can clarify this to me, it would help me to have peace of mind.

The investigator can only, in this case, go by what shows up when they run their background check. It may, despite what you have still show that you were arrested or that you were “arrested and then it was downgraded.”

While I believe that you answered honestly, the record may show differently. I would start by checking with where the arrest occurred and see what they have. But, mistakes like this happen all of the time. Investigators and adjudicators see issues like this regularly.

Thank you. Honestly, I would have answered NO even if the arrest was not reduced to detention because the question asks only about conviction and exclusively tells you not to list arrest without conviction.
Maybe what I should have done is to answer the question NO but mention in the explanation box that there is this incident that resulted in no charge or conviction. I have had the same issue 3 years ago with another federal job that asked for arrest records and I listed it voluntarily when filling out a different but similar form. So there was no question of me trying to hide the truth at the time. After 4 months of ups and downs, i was allowed to keep on working there, but in this new job I am applying to the form asked only for conviction, so i didn’t provide it. This incident (the only one in my life) happened 4 1/2 years ago.

This is the best answer to this question because it shows you believe NO is the right answer but you elaborate the answer with the explanation and indicates you acknowledge the incident happened and are not trying to hide it.

1 Like

Each situation may be unique - or may have some extenuating circumstances -
The specific application that related to this inquiry on this board was completed back in December / January - the tentative offer subsequently converted to a formal offer and an acceptance and employment starts in about 5 weeks.
To provide individual context - The issue(s) that prompted the questions was related to a “citation for a summary offense” (under age drinking / public intoxication) that was subsequently dismissed after of a plea of “Not-Guilty” and then completion of the Youth Diversionary Program. In this state a ‘summary offense’ is the lowest level of offense , it is not a misdemeanor, which is a more serious crime and absolutely not a felony. In this situation there was no incarceration, no detention, no ride in a squad car - no breathalyzer - simply a name and address taken - and sent on - and a citation arrived in the mail.

My inquiries on this board were initially a quest for clarity / or direction - a few different views were offered up - some suggested “error on the side of caution & over inform” - however, after reading and re-reading (many times) Form OF-306 … it was clear - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that OF-306 did not call for the disclosure of a citation for a ‘summary offense’ to which one plead not-guilty and which was dismissed. In fact, it became clear that one would have to seriously disregard the specific instructions of the form to insert this information.

Dani - I have no prior knowledge of your situation - and - no familiarity with the extended list of forms that one may encounter in the federal bureaucracy - I have come to understand that there may be forms that delve into details far beyond the level of the OF-306 … but it would seem odd that you would be directed to literally make a misrepresentation on OF-306 as some sort of makeshift means of linking to / redirecting to - something beyond the scope of OF-306.

I’ll defer to those more familiar with federal administrative procedure - maybe there is some sort of informal understanding that one can / should check “NO” and then go ahead and deviate from the instructions and insert information beyond the scope of the original question in the the space for item 16.

  • much appreciation for the thoughtful and considered responses on this site.

Hi Dani - I am in same situation as yours. Do I have to mention YES / No for the question 9 subject to the fact that my case has been expunged in 2016 ? Please suggest according to your experience in this regard.

  • Would it impact on employment offer if we mention it NO as the case is expunged.