How to answer employment question "Have you plead guilty, no contest or convicted of a crime"?

Asked 5 months ago - Garden Grove, CA

I was offered a Deferred Entry Judgment for petty theft in Southern California. As part of the deal, I have to plead guilty, attend a 6 hours class and submit DNA sample. After 90 days and completion of the requirements, the plead will be withdrawn and the case will be dismissed. My question is some of the job application ask "Have you ever plead guilty, no contest or convicted of a crime?" Since the case will be dismissed after the term, I can answer no to conviction but how do I answer to the question if I have pled guilty? I know that I had to plead guilty to qualify for the program but the plead is withdrawn upon completing the program. Also, what will show on my DOJ record? Will I have a conviction or dismissed? Thank you for your kindly answers.

Additional information

Sorry about the lack of information. I'm referring to private employers, not public or government jobs.

Attorney answers (8)

  1. Sergio Humberto Benavides

    Contributor Level 11

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    Answered . what you are being offered is another word for diversion/DEJ. deferred entry of judgment is usually offered to People for drug related charges, and it's specifically states in the DEJ paperwork, that I have seen, that while you are doing the program you do not have to reveal that you have plead to a charge or that you have a conviction for employment purposes. The only exceptuon is employment with law enforcement. The original arrest will always be on your record. When this case is eventually dismissed you will have no guilty plea showing and you will have no conviction showing.

  2. Matthew Murillo

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    Answered . Most of these programs end with a dismiss of the charge under PC 1203.4 - commonly known as an "expungement".

    If you pled guilty, and the dismissal has not happened, you must answer that you have been convicted because the dismissal is conditional on successful completion of the terms. You cannot say that you have not been convicted until the dismissal actually goes through.

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  3. Greg Hagopian

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    Answered . You can answer "no." Employers are only allowed to ask about convictions, and this question must be read as complying wit that labor law. That said, since you DO NOT have a conviction (that's the judgement that has been suspended) the truthful answer is "no."

  4. James Roy Dickinson

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    Answered . It is impossible to say without more. That said, in certain circumstances one is not required to disclose information regarding one's criminal record to a potential employer. A qualified attorney will be able to, upon your providing additional information, answer your question unequivocally.

  5. J. Denise Carter

    Contributor Level 19

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    Answered . I do not believe that you will have to answer yes once your plea is withdrawn. It will not show as a conviction, but will show on your arrest record. Hope that's helpful

  6. Michael Douglas Shafer

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . It sounds like "yes". but your terms and other specifics would have to be known. I suggest you sit down with counsel.

  7. Marc David McBride

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    Answered . Because it appears that your "DEJ" plea was made as part of the Orange County District Attorney's INFORMAL "DNA/DEJ" program (which would typically carry a 3 month time period during which you must submit a DNA sample, do a 6 hour class and make restitution if any), you should realize that, while you would be signing and entering into a Guilty Plea, you will never reach the sentencing phase of the plea as long as you successfully complete all terms of the OCDA DNA/DEJ Crime Detection and Deterrence program. In California, a person is NOT convicted UNLESS they are SENTENCED and the OC Court Clerk's office should NOT send any abstract of conviction to the Department of Justice UNLESS you are convicted (by being sentenced).

    If you want to be completely honest, then tell the potential employer that you entered a guilty plea but, you will not realistically get the job. If, on the other hand, you DO NOT tell the potential employer, they will not find out about the guilty plea through any official channels because (1) the DOJ will not tell them something that hasn't been reported and (2) the OC Clerk's office is not supposed to give out records to anyone other than the defendant or his/her attorney of record.

  8. William Jordan Steed III

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    Answered . This is a good question that may help others, as a criminal record can obviously hinder employment opportunities, and a diversionary plea or expungement sounds like a chance to maintain a clean record. When a case is expunged, many believe it disappears from all records, but that is not true. Although the case should be expunged from public court records, it will likely still remain in state and national law enforcement databases. Moreover, private background check companies (used by some employers) often obtain arrest records early in a case, and keep them on file even after public court records are expunged. When a person applies for a job and reports no prior record, an employer may be concerned if a background check reveals the arrest. Although the applicant may have been legally entitled to deny the prior charge, the employer may nonetheless feel the applicant was dishonest. In some cases, it may be better for the applicant to be forthcoming and explain that the prior case was minor, that it was eventually expunged, and that the applicant is not even legally required to report it. Such an approach may be better than gambling on whether the employer will learn about the prior through another source. Any individual with such a case should keep a certified copy of the judgment showing that the case was dismissed and/or expunged. A good defense attorney can also write a letter explaining the expungement process, and possibly (if true in that jurisdiction) noting that individuals are not legally required to report such cases. With the records and letter, a job applicant may choose to disclose everything in the application (with documentation) and hope to get credit for honesty and demonstrating that it was a minor case. On the other hand, if the applicant chooses not to disclose it, and questions are later raised by the employer, then the applicant may have an opportunity to explain and will have documentation to demonstrate what happened. As other attorneys in the forum have noted, it is best to consult with an attorney personally about each individual case, both for advice as to the nature of the plea, and advice as to how to best move forward after a case is resolved.

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