Innocent Until Proven Guilty? Not at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

At the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, individuals looking to gain temporary access for work or other matters may be prohibited from entering if they have pending criminal charges.  In fact, all misdemeanor and felony charges, except first-offense Operating Under the Influence (“OUI”), will prevent an individual from gaining access to the Shipyard until the case has been finally adjudicated.

In addition to banning individuals with pending criminal matters, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard also imposes significant bans for individuals with criminal convictions. All misdemeanor convictions (excluding first-offense OUI) carry a five-year ban from the Shipyard.  All felony convictions carry a ten-year ban. All convictions that require an individual to register on the sex offender registry will result in a lifetime ban.  Any individual with an active warrant will be precluded from entering until the warrant has been recalled, or the case has been finally adjudicated.

The prohibition on entry to the Shipyard commences on the date an individual is charged, and the five-year, ten-year, and lifetime bans commence on the date of conviction.

Typically, Operating Under the Influence is viewed as a very serious offense.  Often, individuals charged with OUI will attempt to avoid a court-ordered license suspension by pleading guilty to a lesser charge, such as Driving to Endanger.  This conviction for a lesser charge will have serious consequences for any individual seeking employment at the Shipyard or with a company that does work on the Shipyard. Again, the only conviction that does not trigger a five-year, ten-year or lifetime ban is a conviction for first-offense OUI.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard does not have a limit on the “look-back” period, meaning they can look back at an individual’s entire adult criminal history, to check for convictions and active warrants. The Shipyard is not concerned with the specifics of the conviction, they simply check to see if any convictions exist.  This leads to inconsistent results for similar conduct. For example, a misdemeanor criminal conviction from three years ago for possession of marijuana may no longer be a criminal offense, but will still result in a five-year ban starting at the date of conviction.

The Shipyard does not consider a Maine Deferred Disposition to count as a conviction as long as it results in a dismissal of the charge.  This means a person put on a Deferred Disposition will be precluded from entering the Shipyard for the period that they are on the Deferred Disposition, but will not receive the five-year, ten-year, or life time ban associated with a conviction for the charge.  These policies do not apply for individuals who are already employed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard when the charge arises.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Southern Maine, contact Attorney Eric S. Thistle at the law offices of Fairfield & Associates, P.A.


Attorney Eric S. Thistle can be reached by email at or by telephone at (207) 985-9465.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.