Criminal Defense Questions: Disclosing No Contest Plea for Cocaine

Question: I pleaded no contest on a possession of cocaine charge with adjudication withheld. Do I have to disclose this to every employer that I apply to? If I do, can it be sealed off my record? I was cited for possession of cocaine but the bag was empty. I also received a DUI.

Amir’s Answer: Based on the information you provided, I will operate under the belief that you were arrested for this felony offense. Anyone that runs your record will see that you were arrested. That said, if you’re asking how you can answer an employment application, that all depends on how it’s worded. A withhold of adjudication means that you were not formally convicted of the offense, but it does stay on your record. If you were adjudicated guilty of the DUI, or any offense, then you cannot seal your record. If you’ve never been adjudicated guilty, then you can petition to have this case sealed.

Several factors determine eligibility for sealing or expunging your record. First, the offenses you wish to address must meet the eligibility requirements. Second, you can’t have any convictions on your record from prior offenses. Third, to have your record expunged, the charges must have been dismissed. To have your record sealed, you must have received a withhold of adjudication. An adjudication of guilt (a conviction) will disqualify you from the process. If the charges were dismissed, you’ll want to have your record expunged, not sealed. Expungement is the deletion of the record and it offers you better protection from prying eyes. Finally, you can’t have applied for a sealing or expunging in the past. You’re only permitted to do it once in your lifetime, with the only exception being a juvenile matter that was administratively expunged following a diversion program.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.
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