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

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