If you've made it safely to the other side of an OUI experience, you may feel relieved. It's over; it's in the past; you can move on with your life.
Before you can truly move on, however, you may need to disclose information about your arrest. You also may not. It's time to figure out who you should tell about your OUI - and what details to focus on when you're having those conversations.
Here's what you need to know:
- Begin by determining your obligation to disclose. Your feelings of personal guilt and sense of obligation might lead you to believe that you need to be frank with your family, your employer, and your community. This might not be the best idea. Remember that an OUI Arrest represents criminal action. Spreading the word about your record may not be in your best interest - particularly for your professional reputation. Before you decide to tell anyone, determine if there is anyone that you must tell. Many employers and schools will have conditions that arrests or criminal convictions must be disclosed. Some of these disclosure obligations can be tricky to figure out on your own. It is critical that you determine whether you have an obligation to disclose. To that end, think very carefully about who you must tell. Your lawyer can help you determine this (very) short list by examining employment contracts and other important documents.
- Second, determine who you want to tell. Aside from the situations where you have to disclose, there may be other people that you want to tell. This is a personal decision, but practical considerations may drive your answer. For example, you may need assistance with transportation. If you have close friends or family members nearby, you may need to lean on them for emotional support. If there are people in your life that care about you, chances are they will be there to support you. But as a caution, tell only people that you trust. As the old adage goes, 90% of the world doesn't care about your problems and the other 10% are glad you have them. If you choose to tell a specific small circle of individuals about your OUI, be strategic as you impart this information. Concentrate on the details of your arrest and what people need to know going forward. You don't need to beat yourself up or explain every detail.
- Third, determine what you want to tell. If you have determined that you do have an obligation to disclose to an employer, school or some other entity. Reduce the disclosure to only what is required. It is possible that there may be follow-up but provide only the bare minimum of necessary information. For example, date of offense, charge, and disposition may be all that is required. Each situation is a little different and evaluation is always unique to what is presented. If you are disclosing to family or friends, avoid beating yourself, you're a human and mistakes happen. You don't need to explain everything in excruciating detail. If you do decide to disclose out of obligation or personal decision, don't lie! Don't make up details or lie about what happened.
- Need to move on? Find a therapist. Inside the safety of patient confidentiality, you can share as much as you need. When dealing with a stressful, overwhelming event such as an OUI, it's natural to need to talk. However, make sure you do so only with select persons who will always be on your side, such as your lawyer and your therapist.
The most important thing to remember? Call a lawyer if you have questions about an OUI! Disclosing your arrest, charge and conviction information is intricate stuff. Call a lawyer if you have any doubt at all as to any disclosure situation. An experienced attorney can make sure that you have adequate protection, no matter what happens. Whether you need to tell people about your OUI arrest or not, you need to have your protection first in mind.