Marijuana Possession Charge and Background Checks

I was recently charged with possession of marijuana (a misdemeanor), and the circumstances were such that I have a decent chance of getting acquitted. If I can't get acquitted, then I'd be able to do a pretrial diversion program to "get it off my record" (although this apparently can show up on certain background checks). If I do get acquitted, then there's a law in my state that destroys the fingerprints immediately.

I'm still a freshman in college, and I want to eventually go into i-banking or consulting out of college. If the worst case scenario occurs where I plea to a pretrial diversion program that could show up on FBI background checks, are my dreams of working in finance or consulting shattered?

Marijuana and Wall Street Applications

First it is important to note that wall street firms perform background checks after they have extended their internship / job offers - this does not occur before you interview. However, applications for interviews will often ask if you've been convicted of a felony and some will ask if you've been convicted of a misdemeanor.

That being said, in the position of the OP, the best-case scenario involves having the case dismissed. Our users recommend that the OP hire a lawyer (or use a school provided lawyer if you can't afford one) so that you can have the best chance of getting off with the least amount of damage to your permeant record.

Once it is on your record you will have a difficulty pursuing internships until you get it expunged.

When it comes to pretrial diversion programs, these can be beneficial as when you are asked if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you can say no since you were never convicted. This is an ideal scenario. However, some applications may ask if you entered into a pretrial diversion program.

User @GrandJury, an investment banking analyst, shared a detailed response:

GrandJury - Investment Banking Analyst:

There are 4 things that can happen.

  1. You can take the case to court and have a trial. (NOT SMART) Any decent lawyer will tell you not to do this.
  2. You have the charges dismissed (BEST SCENARIO). Most likely will be due to legal issues with the initial search and arrest procedures or if your lawyer jerks the judge off on the weekends.
  3. You have it dropped to a Class C Drug Paraphernalia charge (REALISTIC SCENARIO). If you have a good lawyer, he/she has a good chance to get you this deal. If you get this deal, TAKE IT. You can expunge the Class C later which means it will be completely off your record.
  4. Deferred Adjudication (WORST REALISTIC SCENARIO). This is the worst case scenario that is likely to happen. You'll have to go through community service, random drug tests, possibly drug classes, pay a fine, and after all that you'll still have it on your record. It won't say you are CONVICTED, but it will show the arrest and charge. However, you can file for a non-disclosure after the adjudication process is over and you completed it. Basically, this blocks this information from private employers. The only way employers will see it is if you are trying to be a doctor/lawyer/police officer/teacher stuff like that.

Whether or not you are hiring a lawyer - you should consult with a lawyer (check if your university provides a free one) to discuss your state's laws and how different courses of actions will affect background checks and how you answer questions about being charged and convicted of misdemeanors and felonies.

You can check out state by state Marijuana laws online

Not familiar with pre-trial diversion programs - check out a video about them below.

Read More About Background Checks on WSO

Preparing for Investment Banking Interviews?

The WSO investment banking interview course is designed by countless professionals with real world experience, tailored to people aspiring to break into the industry. This guide will help you learn how to answer these questions and many, many more.

Investment Banking Interview Course Here

Comments (30)

Dec 21, 2012

this is familiar..

Dec 21, 2012

I wouldn't say shattered. Would be worse if you got charged with dealing it.

Dec 21, 2012

Get a great lawyer.

Dec 21, 2012

Lawyer up, especially if you have a decent chance at getting acquitted. Actually, lawyer up either way and worry first about your current situation. Oh, and don't fucking get caught again.

Dec 21, 2012

Friend had this too. Before getting it expunged or whatever he could not get in anywhere. After, got a job at a good shop.

Unfortunately, this is hard(er?) to get right after the offense because they do not know if you will keep offending. The punishments are greater for offense 1, 2, etc. and they will not want you to be able to walk away from that. Get a lawyer.

Still, to answer your question, I cant say for sure if it will come up in the future through some in depth check, but I have seen someone who had the same thing get through BR checks without any issues.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Dec 21, 2012

Luckily I do have an excellent lawyer for my current situation, and this event happened at the very beginning of my freshman year, so if everything goes right, it will have been four years since the event happened once I graduate. I always thought that places only really care about crimes such as theft or larceny. Anyway, do you think it will be just as difficult to get internships with my record? I do go to a target school and my grades are excellent so far.

Dec 21, 2012

There are 4 things that can happen.

1. You can take the case to court and have a trial. (NOT SMART) Any decent lawyer will tell you not to do this.

2. You have the charges dismissed (BEST SCENARIO). Most likely will be due to legal issues with the initial search and arrest procedures or if your lawyer jerks the judge off on the weekends.

3. You have it dropped to a Class C Drug Paraphernalia charge (REALISTIC SCENARIO). If you have a good lawyer, he/she has a good chance to get you this deal. If you get this deal, TAKE IT. You can expunge the Class C later which means it will be completely off your record.

4. Deferred Adjudication (WORST REALISTIC SCENARIO). This is the worst case scenario that is likely to happen. You'll have to go through community service, random drug tests, possibly drug classes, pay a fine, and after all that you'll still have it on your record. It won't say you are CONVICTED, but it will show the arrest and charge. However, you can file for a non-disclosure after the adjudication process is over and you completed it. Basically, this blocks this information from private employers. The only way employers will see it is if you are trying to be a doctor/lawyer/police officer/teacher stuff like that.

Dec 21, 2012
GrandJury:

There are 4 things that can happen.

1. You can take the case to court and have a trial. (NOT SMART) Any decent lawyer will tell you not to do this.

2. You have the charges dismissed (BEST SCENARIO). Most likely will be due to legal issues with the initial search and arrest procedures or if your lawyer jerks the judge off on the weekends.

3. You have it dropped to a Class C Drug Paraphernalia charge (REALISTIC SCENARIO). If you have a good lawyer, he/she has a good chance to get you this deal. If you get this deal, TAKE IT. You can expunge the Class C later which means it will be completely off your record.

4. Deferred Adjudication (WORST REALISTIC SCENARIO). This is the worst case scenario that is likely to happen. You'll have to go through community service, random drug tests, possibly drug classes, pay a fine, and after all that you'll still have it on your record. It won't say you are CONVICTED, but it will show the arrest and charge. However, you can file for a non-disclosure after the adjudication process is over and you completed it. Basically, this blocks this information from private employers. The only way employers will see it is if you are trying to be a doctor/lawyer/police officer/teacher stuff like that.

In Michigan, there are no official classes of misdemeanors. However, I could have it dropped to "use" of marijuana, which is a less serious misdemeanor, but it still can't be expunged for 5 years in Michigan. If I do the deferred adjudication, I believe the arrest and charge automatically go into my non-public record once I'm done with probation. I'm not sure if that means that employers can still see them or not.

Dec 21, 2012

The key thing I would definitely look into would be if the charge and arrest go to your non-public record after the probation process. If it does, that's not too bad actually. Then, only employers I mentioned earlier and probably public sector employers would only to be able to see them as they would not come up during a normal background check from say, Bank of America or something.

I'm saying this through experience from dealing with the Texas Law System where marijuana charges are unbelievably strict. Hopefully you have it better in Michigan.

Dec 21, 2012

Double post.

Dec 21, 2012

Double post.

Dec 21, 2012

Even if HR were able to access a record, do you think a charge as minor as marijuana use will result in getting any offers I receive rescinded? If that were the case, are there any sectors of employment in finance or consulting that tend to be more lenient toward minor offenses that don't have to do with a breach of trust?

Dec 21, 2012
mrpeterman:

Even if HR were able to access a record, do you think a charge as minor as marijuana use will result in getting any offers I receive rescinded? If that were the case, are there any sectors of employment in finance or consulting that tend to be more lenient toward minor offenses that don't have to do with a breach of trust?

To be honest, it'll be an obstacle. Whether or not it hinders your ability to get hired as opposed to someone with a clean record, I honestly don't know.

Some job applications will only ask if you are convicted, and since you did the deferred adjudication you technically were never convicted of the crime so you would not have to reveal any information.

I really don't know which sectors or specific companies would be more lenient. I think it goes by a situational basis (first time offender, your redeeming qualities, etc.)

Jan 2, 2013

I've been thinking about this, and does anyone think I would have a better shot getting a job at a smaller boutique bank because their background checks aren't as stringent?

Jan 2, 2013

ur fuct

Jan 2, 2013

In this environment, yeah you're probably screwed.

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Jan 2, 2013

I'm in a similar situation as you (http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/another-back...) and would like to here some legitimate input.

I've talked to HR, and the charges will not affect whether or not you get an offer; that is considered after you receive an offer, when you talk to the internal background check team.

It might just be wishful thinking, but I would think that you would be innocent until proven guilt/dismissed, so a dismissal should not affect too much. Input from anyone who actually works at a bank would be great, though. If you're willing to help out, please PM me.

Jan 2, 2013

come back and ask once you get an offer..

Jan 2, 2013

*received a MIP charge in michigan shortly after I ACCEPTED THE OFFER**

Jan 2, 2013

[quote=bulls701]

*received a MIP charge in michigan shortly after I ACCEPTED THE OFFER**

[/quote
Hey man, I'm in a similar situation to you at the moment and was wondering what ended up happening with you? did you get the job?

Jan 2, 2013

Ayco has some extremely unattractive people working there. Wow.

http://www.ayco.com/culture/ourpeople.html

Jan 2, 2013
holla_back:

Ayco has some extremely unattractive people working there. Wow.

http://www.ayco.com/culture/ourpeople.html

Hahaha wow. That's unfortunate.

To OP - I think you should be fine.

Jan 2, 2013
holla_back:

Ayco has some extremely unattractive people working there. Wow.

http://www.ayco.com/culture/ourpeople.html

Lol @ Lorelli

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Jan 2, 2013

Wait, you got an underage? Why didn't you just call it an underage? My guess is they will be fine with it since it's a misdemeanor crime. I wouldn't put too much stock into it. If you get probation, you'll end up having this off your record so it's not going to kill you.

Jan 2, 2013

I think you'll be okay, although GS is tougher on this than other firms.

Next time don't be an idiot though.

Jan 2, 2013

loll meanies

Jan 2, 2013
Comment

Eventus stultorum magister.

Jan 2, 2013