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Tale underscores why even arrest sans conviction can be a problem

Alleged criminal offenders in California and elsewhere can sometimes suffer stark personal downsides even if an encounter with police officers does not ultimately yield a conviction.

Take a DUI charge, for instance, or law enforcers’ allegations of a sex crime. An individual battling legal authorities in either of those contexts can suffer loss of personal and professional reputation and be otherwise stigmatized as well, even if all charges are subsequently dropped. Other penalties can also result, like costs incurred via down time at work, paying for court costs and administrative matters and more.

A recent case that just concluded with a San Diego jury’s verdict in a civil matter demonstrates how a scrape with authorities can scar an individual charged with crimes that were later dismissed. Fortunately for the accused, his story had a happy ending.

The story can be quickly told. A California insurance agent was arrested in Arizona on illegal drug possession and domestic violence counts, respectively, after his girlfriend there called police. He accepted a plea deal and fulfilled all its stated conditions. In exchange, all his charges were dismissed.

And then insurer Allstate fired him.

Ultimately, that did not turn out well for the company. The above-cited jury found in the ex-agent’s favor on the grounds that an employer’s consideration of an arrest record not yielding a criminal conviction in deciding to fire a worker violates California law.

The former agent unquestionably lost in the short-term, noting that he was unable to secure a job with another employer owing to the firing.

His long-term prospects look materially better, though. The jury awarded him an eye-popping $18 million-plus in compensatory relief and punitive damages assessed against Allstate.

Unsurprisingly, the insurer vows to appeal.

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