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So You Want To Be a Captain – Court Convictions and Assessment Periods

Source: Mariners Learning System, By Captain Bob Figular

When applying for a Captain’s License you will be required to answer a series of questions on various forms. The topics will include issues that relate to your use of any dangerous drugs or convictions by any court for offenses other than minor traffic violations. Many first time offenders have their records expunged after a court set period of good behavior. Having a past conviction on your record may not be reason for a license not being issued. The Coast Guard is very specific with its definition of a conviction.

Conviction means the applicant for a merchant mariner’s document has been found guilty by judgment or plea by a court of record of the United States, the District of Columbia, any State, territory, or possession of the United States, a foreign country, or any military court, of a criminal felony or misdemeanor or of an offense described in section 205 of the National Driver Register Act of 1982, as amended (49 U.S.C. 30304).

If an applicant pleads guilty or no contest, is granted deferred adjudication, or is required by the court to attend classes, make contributions of time or money, receive treatment, submit to any manner of probation or supervision, or forgo appeal of a trial court’s conviction, then the Coast Guard will consider the applicant to have received a conviction. A later expungement of the conviction will not negate a conviction unless the Coast Guard is satisfied that the expungement is based upon a showing that the court’s earlier conviction was in error. If anything in your past meets the terms of this definition report it.

You will be going through a background check and the information will likely be revealed. Even if the courts said the offense will be expunged or erased after a period of time. The Coast Guard is not asking did it go away... They are asking if it ever occurred. If you do not report a Conviction the Coast Guard will most likely be looking into the fact that you have now submitted a fraudulent application.

If there are issues in your past the Coast Guard will evaluate any offense using the guidelines published in the tables found in 46 CFR 10.201(h). These guidelines set out the minimum and maximum “assessment periods” that will affect when your license application may be processed. These tables are used by the Coast Guard as guidelines and you must remember that they are just that guidelines. The assessment period may vary depending on the nature and number of convictions in your past. In addition these tables do not list all of the offenses that could affect a license being issued in the first place.

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