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Does the US have access to court or arrest records? - All Woman - Jamaica Observer
All Woman

Does the US have access to court or arrest records?



I'm in the process of applying for an adjustment of status; however, I was arrested and charged jointly in January for possession and dealing in marijuana. I was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time and have never been involved in any form of criminal activity.

Long story short, the court found no evidence in my case and the matter was dropped. My fingerprints were never taken. I wanted to know if that arrest record would show up on my biometrics, if I were to answer the question, was I ever arrested? Does the United States (US) have access to court or arrest records?

Also, if I answer yes, will I be admissible to the US since my charge was over 30 ounces? I'm very confused as to what to do.

The first thing I must say is that I do not know what the US authorities have access to and what their decision would be with certainty. I can however surmise that if you do not answer honestly and correctly, and such falsity is discovered, they will definitely deny your application and even cancel it, if it had been granted on the mistaken view that you had never been arrested.

The fact that your fingerprints were not taken does not necessarily mean that the facts of your arrest were not recorded at the Criminal Records Office, as when you apply for your records they can take your fingerprints to complete your records before giving you your official criminal records.

You must be completely honest in all your answers to all questions in applications generally, and most certainly in those to a country's authority which you are hoping will permit you to have its legal authority for you to enter and visit or remain within the country's borders. Honesty is always the best and safest policy in everything we do.

You must, of course, answer the question of whether you have ever been arrested in the affirmative. Being arrested does not mean you are or were found guilty. Is there not a question of whether you have ever been convicted on the form? Anyway, the only way you can answer the question of whether you have ever been arrested is in the affirmative.

You must, however, before you complete and submit your application, go to the court office where you answered to the charge in January and apply for a certified copy of the record of your trial and the order of dismissal of the charges. You may have to pay for the search for the relevant file and the preparation of the copy of the trial record and its certification. In fact, I strongly suggest that you apply for two such certified copies so you will always have one in hand for use in the future to enable you to always be able to clear your name if it is ever suggested that you were ever in possession of, and a drug dealer.

I suggest that you obtain the certified copies of your having been arrested, charged and tried and that the charges against you were dismissed by the court, so that you can send in your application with a certified copy of the court records attached to it, thereby proving that though you were arrested and charged, you were not convicted and therefore you have a clear criminal record. You can have the lawyer who represented you at the trial do the application to the court's office for the certified copies for you, if you choose. Or, as I said earlier, go and do it yourself.

I wish you all the very best.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.



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