Is Underage Drinking a “criminal offense” that should be reported on employment or academic applications?

While the Underage Drinking charge is only a summary offense, it is included in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, and therefore many attorneys believe that it does constitute a “criminal offense” for employment and educational application question purposes. Criminal defense attorneys across Pennsylvania debate whether or not the Underage Drinking charge is a “criminal offense.” The debates amongst lawyers often do not matter as it is more important to consider how the person or entity asking the question defines “criminal offense.” Many applications expressly state that a person need not report minor traffic convictions, so such applications make it clear the types of offenses that need not be reported. Since such applications do not exclude non-traffic summary offenses, such as Underage Drinking, such offenses should be reported.

While Underage Drinking may be considered a criminal offense, most employment applications only inquire about “convictions or guilty pleas” to criminal offenses. If a person charged with Underage Drinking is able to have the charge dismissed or be found not guilty, then the person can avoid the conviction and thereby avoid having to report the Underage Drinking charge on applications. Also, if the charge is dismissed or a person is found not guilty, then an expungement petition can be filed to seek an order of expungement from the court to have the matter removed from the government’s criminal records upon being dismissed. While a person would think that dismissed or withdrawn charges were actually removed from the government records, in Pennsylvania, such charges remain on a person’s record unless they are expunged. After obtaining a dismissal, not guilty verdict, or a withdrawal of the charges, it is extremely important to file the expungement paperwork with the court to have the records removed from the government’s databases.

State College criminal defense lawyer Jason S. Dunkle has been able to help hundreds of clients charged with Underage Drinking avoid convictions and thereby have the charges expunged from the government’s records. Read about some of the ways Attorney Dunkle was able to obtain favorable resolutions and avoid convictions for prior Underage Drinking clients. Simply stated, by avoiding a conviction or guilty plea, a person can often avoid having to report the Underage Drinking charge to a prospective employer on employment applications.