How much do I need to explain about my crime?
August 10, 2010 5:44 PM   Subscribe

I need to know if I've explained my "crime" sufficiently for a volunteer position that requires a "police background check."

I am applying for a volunteer committee position that requires a "Police Background Check." This is one of the questions:
Have you been charged with a crime other than a minor traffic offense during the last 10 years? If Yes, please explain.

This is what I have come up with as an explanation to my offence, do you think this it's sufficient?
I was playing Frisbee with friends in approximately the spring of ****, while in a public park in ******. While playing Frisbee, drank a beer. I was over 21 but I was unaware that a permit was required to do this, and I was written a ticket for drinking alcohol in a city park without a permit, a misdemeanor under the city’s park ordinance. I went to court and spoke with the prosecutor, who offered a plea bargain where I would be charged with, and plead guilty to a petty misdemeanor (defined in ** law as an unlawful act that is not a crime, the same level of offense as a parking ticket). I agreed and was found guilty of the petty misdemeanor, so I paid the fine and promised the judge I would never do it again.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (11 answers total)
 
That sounds very clear -- though you'll want to proof read it (you missed out an "I" before "drank a beer").
posted by jb at 5:50 PM on August 10, 2010


In positions that require background checks, the "describe your crime" thing is used to make sure you won't lie to them hoping the background check comes back blank. They may not have a problem with the crime, depending on its nature, but they would have a problem with your not disclosing it. So as long as what comes back matches with what you said, you should be fine.
posted by griphus at 5:54 PM on August 10, 2010


In the world of background checks, I think this is actually above and beyond what is strictly required. Honestly, I'm not even sure that something is "the same level of offense" as a parking ticket would show up on a background check (do parking tickets? I honestly don't know). Regardless, you've explained it clearly here. I do think that your draft, as it were, could actually benefit from cutting. Take out the part in parentheses that explains what a "petty misdemeanor" is and assume that whomever is in charge of doing BG checks would already know that. Also, it might not be strictly necessary to include the very end part about what you promised the judge. The fact that you don't have another blip on your record will tell them that - you don't really need a court transcript to go along with it.

"I was over the age of 21, and drank a beer in a public park. I was unaware that a permit was required to do so in **** area. I was charged with a 'petty misdemeanor," and paid the fine assessed by the judge."

As long as that's what actually happened, you should be absolutely fine.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 6:05 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I was over the age of 21, and drank a beer in a public park. I was unaware that a permit was required to do so in **** area. I was charged with a 'petty misdemeanor," and paid the fine assessed by the judge."

This is exactly what you should say. You can extrapolate if they ask, but there is really no need.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:14 PM on August 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yeah, leave out the Frisbee and the extraneous details. You can even make it as simple as this: "Drank a beer in a public park without the required permit. Charged with a petty misdemeanor and paid a fine."

fin.
posted by pecanpies at 7:00 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"defined in ** law as an unlawful act that is not a crime"

Then you don't have to list it I would think.
posted by chinabound at 8:34 PM on August 10, 2010


defined in ** law as an unlawful act that is not a crime, the same level of offense as a parking ticket

Then why are you bothering?

If it comes up after a check, then say... my understanding is that this is defined in ** law as an unlawful act that is not a crime, the same level of offense as a parking ticket

If you need to report it, leave out everything apart from the fact that you were charged with a misdemeanor. Find out the exact statute you were changed with and state it. Nothing more is required.
posted by the noob at 9:06 PM on August 10, 2010


This is sort of out of scope for your question, but FYI: when i ran the volunteer program at a social services agency (this was in Toronto, about 10 years ago), we had a similar form that asked people to explain any potential background check results. I don't know why we did it, since the de facto rule was "don't approve anyone who has any criminal record, no matter how minor". So just be aware that you could write a pulitzer prize winning explanation, and it might not matter.
posted by Kololo at 9:08 PM on August 10, 2010


Have you been charged with a crime other than a minor traffic offense during the last 10 years? If Yes, please explain.

Recalls: went to court and spoke with the prosecutor, who offered a plea bargain where I would be charged with, and plead guilty to a petty misdemeanor (defined in ** law as an unlawful act that is not a crime ...

Rereads question: Have you been charged with a crime ... ?

Answers: No.

Sleeps easy.
posted by flabdablet at 1:35 AM on August 11, 2010


Yeah, don't disclose this. It's unlikely to turn up, unless the agency has requested, and is paying for, an extra-high level of scrutiny. In which case you can say what the noob suggested.

FWIW I've done a couple of dozen background checks and never had anything minor turn up. People have disclosed stuff to me like DUIs, and they have never turned up in the check.
posted by Susan PG at 3:19 AM on August 11, 2010


I think pecanpies is probably on the right track here. It seems to me that this is likely to show up on a criminal history search, but it probably isn't the sort of thing anyone's going to care about with the explanation you've provided. It's generally wise to err on the side of disclosure, as you can get in way bigger trouble for failing to disclose something than you can for disclosing it.

Unless you're volunteering for a group which has a thing about drinking. Other than that though, that sort of explanation is fine.
posted by valkyryn at 5:33 AM on August 11, 2010


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