Drug Felony arrest, dismissed and sealed

I was arrested 5 years ago for possession of cocaine. I did not test for the drug - blood and hair. The drug was found during an EMT call to my home which the police came to also. Eventually the charges were dropped and the records were sealed by the court - not a request by me. I am currently applying for a job in IT requiring a Public Trust security clearance. I know I must include this in the security form but am curious as to the impact on my ability to obtain the clearance. I passed several background checks, one of which 5 months after the incident with a large banking financial concern. I have excellent credit and no history of alcohol and/or drug abuse other than this arrest.

If the charges were dropped/dismissed then you have no worries. However, if a plea agreement was involved or adjudication was withheld pending completion of probation then that is the same as being guilty.

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There was probation involved after which the charges were dropped and the records sealed by the court. Does this mean a Public Trust will not be granted?

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Is there anything I can do about it? I’ve never taken drugs nor tested positive for drugs.

If that is the only issue then it can be mitigated.

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I would recommend speaking to it and submitting anything you have as mitigation along with the form. If you have a good security manager they understand why you submit that and potential impact. In the interim I would consider pursuing unsealing and expunging the information. It can be done for a price. It doesn’t change the past but demonstrates you care about how your character is assessed and that it is an important point you do not use drugs. I would still list it but you can also submit the amplifying data showing you are continuing to address the issue.

Thanks but in Ohio there is no such thing as expunged, i.e., the State does not remove/destroy records. They remained sealed to all but the government. This was my concern because had this happened in a federal court, this offense would not have been something a Public Trust check would’ve picked up. Like most people, I was told this would literally ‘go away.’ I adhered to all of the requirements set out by the court. This does not show up for any other background check but a federal government check.

Understood. Each state has its own law and procedures. I am certainly not a lawyer or remotely qualified to speak to Ohio law. But an attorney may be able to guide you to what is available.

Instead of focusing on trying to erase the record, turn your attention to moving forward and demonstrating that it was a lapse in judgement that is in the past never to be revisited again.

Truly that’s what I’ve done. I spent 3 years in therapy, divorced the drug addict, and have worked very hard to put my life back in order. I just never thought I would ever have to in a sense relive it. I am scared and worried as this job is truly a wonderful opportunity. Thank you for your response.

The whole person concept will be used. If through the preponderance of evidence the issues were all around the drug addict, you removed them from your circle and are living clean…it should work out okay. A marriage can go bad no matter how hard one person works at it. And if that other person is an addict…there is usually a host of addict bad decisions and choices in there. Removing them from your life and changing your choices moving forward, given time, will show up in how you are assessed.

I suspect that the same would be true in most states. Even if a record is formally “expunged”, it will still be accessible somewhere for use by the criminal justice system.