I was accused of second degree assault. The State’s Attorney’s Office did not prosecute and I received a disposition of nolle prosequi. Will this incident keep me from getting a low level security clearance job?
Criminal Arrest May Affect Low Level Security Clearance
Here, at the Law Offices of Ross W. Albers, I get this question a lot from criminal and DUI clients in Maryland. The classic lawyer answer is, “It depends.”
As a former Maryland criminal prosecutor, I know that a nolle prosequi (nol pros) is not an acquittal, nor is it a conviction or guilty. The State enters a nol pros when it elects not to proceed with a case. This can happen for various reasons.
For example, yesterday, my criminal client had two pending cases. A plea agreement could not be reach by my client and the Assistant State’s Attorney. Therefore, my client and I elected a bench trial. My client was found not guilty of second degree assault and harassment. After the verdict, the State then entered a nol pros in the second case, because they couldn’t prove their case.
Unfortunately, just being charged with a crime can have serious ramifications for individuals with or seeking security clearances.
The truth is, the only way to know whether a case’s disposition will affect your security clearance is to investigate the procedures and protocols of your particular employer and security clearance.
However, I guarantee that you will run into a big issue if you fail to disclose the charges if asked by your employer. Additionally, if you have a duty to report any arrests and charges to your employer regardless of the outcome, then you must do it!
Whether or not you have been charged with a crime is different than being convicted. Also, receiving a probation before judgment (PBJ) in Maryland is not a conviction.
Bottom line, you need to understand the questions being asked and your duty to report when you apply for or have a security clearance.
In this case, filing for an expungement would be smart. While it might not relieve you of your duty to report the arrest and charges, it could be helpful later on.
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Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney Ross W. Albers is a former Baltimore City prosecutor. The Law Offices of Ross W. Albers is based in Carroll County, Maryland and handles the following matters throughout Maryland: criminal, driving under the influence, divorce, child custody, and personal injury.