Drug Charges on Your Record
Among the top concerns for my clients when facing drug charges is the effect their case will have on their record. To approach this topic, it pays to know that a person’s “record” can mean a handful of things in the criminal justice system. This goes for all criminal offenses. Below are very common questions asked by clients with variations as to the stages they may be in. To find out more about the effects of drug charges on your record, you can also read about: Criminal Record
How will drug charges affect your record?
The most critical aspect of this question is to pinpoint where in the process you are. Did you just get arrested and waiting for your first day in court? Have you been charged with drug offenses and fighting the case already? Have you been found guilty by a jury or plead guilty to the charge? Depending on the stage you are in, you may still have a chance to make a difference in how your record will look—so the question of how the charges will affect your record can depend on what’s going to happen. Read more below about what stage you are in to get a good idea how your record will be affected.
The second most critical aspect of this question is to define what kind of work you do or are planning on getting into. If your are planning to enter a career that requires licensing, special training, certification, or governmental clearance, then you are the most vulnerable to the risks of drug charges on your record.
Also, if you are currently in school or will apply for higher-level education, then you are also in a delicate position to have a tarnished record. (Find out about getting criminal charges expunged from your record.) State and Federal licensing agencies have virtually complete access to the offenses you are facing—which makes it very critical that you do everything possible to challenge your case to obtain a favorable result.
Will your employer find out about drug charges?
This depends on what type of work you do. It helps to know whether or not there are random or scheduled background checks in your place of business. It also helps to know whether there is a company or office policy that informs you that your job will be at risk if you suffer an arrest or conviction for a specified crime like drug charges.
More importantly, some jobs require you to disclose whether or not you suffered an arrest or criminal charge. The reasons for that are plentiful. But if you have an obligation or duty to make your drug charges known to your employer—then there could be a chance you are subjected to periodic background checks just to see if you are complying with that policy. Which means getting arrested or charged for drugs may not effect your employment as much as failing to disclose that fact at the right time.
There are some things you can do to minimize the damages that a drug charge can have with your employer. A detailed examination of your case would be needed since it depends on several factors. Sometimes hiring a lawyer just for this aspect is worth the benefits of keeping your job and securing your future with the business.
When looking for a job, will future employers see your drug charges?
The information above still applies here (it depends on what stage you are in and what work you do). But beyond that, the answer to this question gets tricky. First, the way in which the employer asks for your past criminal record will be a major factor. Does the application ask you whether you have ever been “arrested” for a crime or does it ask you if you have ever been “convicted” of a crime? These two words mean very different things for purposes of your record. There are ways you can navigate the hiring process so that you can get your fair chance at the job instead of falling out of favor too early.
It is estimated that between 80% to 95% of employers conduct some form of background checks on potential candidates. This is where your type of work becomes crucial because it will determine what kind of background check will be conducted. At the top of the list for the most invasive records checks are governmental agencies (city, county, state, and federal jobs). Right below that are any careers that require licensing or professional accreditation. These background checks will be conduced with the most expensive and sophisticated agencies that make it their business to find out everything about you. Beyond these two categories, you will have to pinpoint your responsibilities within the company or business to assess how invasive the background check will be.
What do I do if I am facing drug charges right now?
You are at a very critical position where you should hire an attorney help you fight the charges. As mentioned above, you still have the power to effect how your record will ultimately be seen by current and future employers. As far as this question goes, end of story—hire a lawyer to make sure you get the best possible chance in preserving your record.
What do I do if I already have a conviction for drug charges?
Then you still have some options. This will require an in-depth analysis of several things, mainly: the kind of charges you were convicted of, how long ago it occurred, what courthouse the case was in, what type of business you are in, what kind of probation you were placed on (if any), whether or not you had any probation violations, and what the terms of your conviction were according to the court record.
What do I do if I’ve been arrested for drugs but have not been charged yet?
You have the best opportunity at this stage of the process. Which means you can still make a serious effort in preserving your record and getting the best possible outcome than any other time. Taking proactive steps and moving forward with a good defense can do wonders if the right ingredients are in place.