Why Expungement for Drug Crimes Matters
People who have spent time in prison for a drug-related charge often face discouraging prospects for rebuilding their lives after they’ve been released. Insecure living conditions, limited options for employment, and the stigma attached to having a criminal record can lead to a high risk of recidivism, starting the cycle over again.
Whether a person attended addiction treatment after a DUI or has been previously incarcerated for their crimes, the criminal charge can remain on a person’s record for at least five years. A drug crime expungement can remove eligible drug crimes from a person’s record and provide an opportunity for a fresh start. Below are some key reasons why expungement matters for those with a past drug conviction.
Protect Your Reputation
Expungement clears the public record, removing drug crimes from background checks, thus giving people a chance to repair their reputation and credibility. Without the stain of a criminal record, people can move on in life without stigma.
Start or Advance Your Career
A drug conviction can severely impede career goals, especially in fields that require licensure or any form of background checks that would reveal a criminal past. Even when not required, many employers still conduct criminal background checks and are less likely to hire a candidate with a drug conviction.
When expungement occurs, career opportunities that weren’t available before will be more attainable. Removing conviction allows a person more freedom in pursuing a fulfilling job, rather than being forced to pursue a less desirable career field simply due to a drug charge.
Go Back to School
Certain academic programs may not allow people to receive financial aid and scholarships if they have a criminal record. Being disqualified from financial assistance can be a major barrier for people seeking higher education.
Once expunged, the conviction will not show up on academic background checks, and individuals can apply to schools without the drug offense counting against them. They will also be eligible for federal student aid and scholarship opportunities.
Live Where You Want
Whether it’s public housing or a private landlord, background checks are almost always conducted on rental applications. Some explicitly state that any type of criminal conviction is immediately disqualifying. With limited housing options, many people are forced to settle for substandard living conditions. An expungement provides more freedom to pursue housing in better neighborhoods.
How to Get a Drug Charge Expunged
The expungement process varies by state law but generally involves petitioning the court, paying applicable fees, and appearing at court hearings. Some states offer automatic expungement for minor first-time offenses after some time has passed. People with serious or repeat offenses usually need to file a petition and seek court approval.
Contacting a reputable attorney with expertise in expungement law is highly recommended for people beginning the process. A lawyer will ensure the proper filing of petitions and can offer invaluable legal advice along the way.
Factors That Influence Whether a Drug Offense Will Be Expunged
While expungement eligibility will differ depending on the state, common influencing factors include time elapsed since conviction, criminal history, compliance with sentencing terms, and the type of drug offense.
Just because someone had a drug conviction in the past doesn’t mean they should be condemned to a life of inadequate housing, education, and employment. A clean slate allows a fresh start, and that’s why expungement matters and should be more accessible to deserving people looking to move beyond their past.