Not arrested or charged but still have police record

Hello all,

I have received an offer for a job from which I expect I will need a security clearance, possibly up to “Secret” level. I received the offer through a recent internship as under a govt. contractor this summer.

I am leaving university, and my freshman year, campus police seized a amount of 1 oz of marijuana from my dorm room. While I was not distributing it, they said a case could be made that would warrant a felony charge (no specifics on that but I’m sure there are charges you could infer with/without intent to distribute) since the amount was over the misdemeanor possession limit in my state.

However, through working with the police and the community I was able to not have any charge go through in the system and I have continued on with life as per usual. This has been my first and only offense of any kind.

Speaking with the university conduct center, it shows only now as a formal warning and nothing more - the conduct center holds no more information. I requested a report of my record from the university police department, and the report dictates that they spoke with me, states that I admitted to having the specified amount, and that they seized the amount. I was not arrested and the report shows no wording of holding me in any capacity. An addendum to the report states that I was not to be charged with the offense. The case status is currently marked as closed as of three years ago. I have not checked my state record, but I assume it would either be identical to the university record, or non-existent if they did not report it.

I was never taken into custody in any capacity, did not receive a formal charge, court notice, or any other paperwork about the incident since; either from the university, local, state, or federal government. I have gone through three separate background checks for internships since the incident without any mention of the incident popping up.

I have worked hard to distance myself from this unfortunate incident where I showed extreme lack of thought by working with the community in my university and staying employed while in school, of which I can provide a wealth of details and references.

My questions now are:

  1. How will this effect my chances at being granted a security clearance? I believe I am all good to go on the other portions, this seems to be the only blight. I do not want to take this job and apply for a security clearance if there’s a 100% denial chance?

  2. If I go through with the security clearance, how would I go about documenting such an incident on the form? even though I was never charged or arrested, should I state it as a possible felony and attempt to explain myself in the comments? Should I list it as another charge? Should I not list it at all?

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, thank you in advance for your responses.

Well . . . You’re asking the right questions . . . This shouldn’t prevent you from being granted a clearance. All in all, it’s pretty minor but you are right, you must report it. You don’t want it to come out in an interview with a friend and have it look like you were trying to hide it.

When you work on your SF-86, it will be pretty clear how to go about reporting this incident. The truth is, I think, that it matters little where in the forms you explain what happened.

You will very likely get asked about in an interview. I recommend writing it all down in one, neat, organized, document and providing a copy to your investigator. You will still have to discuss it but this will give them an explanation that can be attached to your report.

Remember . . . The document needs to explain what happened, you need to take responsibility, express remorse and explain what you have done to change your life since.

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Thank you for the response!

You’re saying list it as a charged felony (whichever one I think it’s closest to?) and then more so focus on preparing a proper response when I inevitably get questioned about it?

I agree with you that reporting it outright is for the best, probably better than them finding out on their own even if it’s in the gray area a little bit.

Would you recommend preparing something like statements from the police force or people I have worked with since when preparing this document? Or should I let them find that portion out on their own. I don’t want to seem like I’m “selling” myself or trying to make light of the issue.

Input in section 22, Police record, that you were charged with marijuana possession by the university police - in the court section report that the charges were dropped. I would not list it as felony.

You will also have to report yes to the drug use in the last 7 years and answer the questions.

Write up the incident to the best of your knowledge but be mindful the investigator is going to ask a lot of questions. I would discourage giving the investigator anything in writing unless specifically asked to do so or having anyone provide written statements through you. Do tell the investigator who all was involved or aware - that and answering all the questions frankly will do you well.

One of the questions that may be asked is why were the University Police in your dorm room. As mentioned by other post, you have to admit to illegal drug use in the past 7 years, assuming you were using it. You should find a way to get this explanation into the comments section. These incidents have a nasty way of popping up through the investigation.

Police report states that they responding to a call about the smell of marijuana… go figure.

Isn’t there also a section about the past 3 years or am I mistaken? I wouldn’t have to put it down there, correct?

Are the comments sections often just glossed over? Any advice on drawing more attention to them to ensure they read any explanation?

Is this something they would continually refer back to in different sections of the investigation when questioning my person? By that I mean how much would this situation impact their viewing of other sections? I’d assume it’d put them in a more skeptical stance overall but I don’t know if it would directly impact anything else?

Drug use asks for past 7 years. Police record includes an EVER section where it asks if you’ve EVER been charged with an offense involving alcohol or drugs. I recall reading here once or twice before that any interaction with police where there might be a record on file like this would require disclosure. An investigator will find out this information whether you initially disclose it or not.

Also, 1 oz. of marijuana is a lot for “personal use” and, in my state at least, it is a felony amount with intent to distribute. This is definitely something an investigator will likely spend a lot of time on, and if I were an investigator (I am not), I would do everything I can to try to uncover why exactly you were possessing a felony amount of marijuana on campus. They can and will ask for anyone who was aware of your illegal drug activity, just be aware of what might come out and always disclose every detail.

Yea, it is a lot for personal use. Reason being - as stated in the police report - was that I was planning to use it on a week-long spring break trip. Not really sure if that justifies my choices there but I think you can follow my logic on the decision to buy that amount.

I think one of the main reasons it didn’t escalate any further was that I was not in any possession of items that could indicate intent to distribute (scales, baggies, etc.) or any paraphernalia. Strictly the bulk amount of marijuana.

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Simply report it as stated. Youthful indiscretion and experimentation. You get a pretty big pass for stupid kid stuff in college. If it has been more than 12 months since last use…it has hasn’t it? If not, stop now and get to that point before submitting the clearance paperwork. Period. Tell your friends it is okay to mention you smoked in Freshman year… but start living a drug free life now. Make your friends aware you cut off use and moved on with adulting. And don’t slip up. No use is no use. If you need remove friends from your life who continue to use…so be it.

yep, over 12 months since past use.

I really appreciate all of the advice!

The information in the comments section are provided to the adjudicator - they are not glossed over. This is also why you don’t want to be sarcastic in the comment sections (yes - that happens).

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As long as it was youthful experimentation, 12 months minimum. If one was a regular user, say every weekend, they may want 18 months. Heavy user, meaning daily? They may want a 2 year break. But generally speaking for MJ use in college, if all other areas are clean…12 months is the minimum before I will even submit a person. Now is the time to make public knowledge you are drug free. Bring it up in discussions, post it in social media, tell your girlfriend/boyfriend etc. The more that can testify to you being drug free since freshman year the better.