Getting a DUI charge is a stressful ordeal. Depending the severity of the charge, a subsequent DUI conviction can become the source of many serious consequences. A DUI charge or conviction can involve jail time as well as a lengthy, costly court process. It can also produce long-term, sometimes irreversible effects on your livelihood. A DUI conviction can stay on your record for years and can affect your ability to maintain or obtain employment. All of these consequences can become reality; therefore, DUI defendants should caution themselves when dealing with an employer. The first consideration is for defendants to differentiate between a DUI charge and a DUI conviction. The difference between the two legal concepts can determine what obligation they owe to their employer.
Why Knowing the Difference Between a Charge and a Conviction Matters
All individuals charged with a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty. That is the presumption an individual with a DUI charge receives. Unless the defendant takes a guilty plea, a DUI charge is an accusation of which the defendant has the right to contest in a court of law. The result of the innocence presumption should shield most employees from feeling an obligation to tell their employer except when disclosure is a matter of company policy or based on contractual obligation. On the other hand, a conviction is normally a finding of guilt by a court of law. Depending on your individual circumstances, your need to disclose can depend on whether you received a simple charge or an official finding of guilt.
What are Your Reporting Obligations to Your Employer?
There is no one answer to this question because all circumstances differ. The first thing to research is the reporting requirements of your specific profession and employer. Many individuals employed through professional licensing boards have greater reporting requirements. Some professional licensing boards for doctors, nurses, and commercial truck drivers require disclosure of a mere charge. If you were charged with a DUI while operating a company vehicle or while performing a job-related duty, it is likely that your employer would want to hear about that. Become extremely familiar with your personnel handbook and any employment agreements you signed in the past. Before going to your human resources manager, consult with an experienced lawyer to determine your individual obligations. This is where knowing the difference between a charge and a conviction can be the difference between you receiving your next paycheck or not. For example, some employment contracts require reporting of both charges and convictions while others may only require the reporting of convictions. This can bode true for personnel handbooks, as well.
Need Legal Assistance with a DUI Case?
Mississippi attorney James Robert Ferguson is an experienced DUI attorney who is ready to defend you. He understands the complexities of Mississippi DUI laws and he will guide you through the process in a diligent manner. Contact us for a consultation today.