Drug Charge Expungement Overview
There are a wide range of criminal offenses that are related to drugs, including simple possession, possession with intent to distribute, the sale or distribution of drugs or drug trafficking. Likewise, the severity of drug charges will vary; a drug conviction can be graded as a low-level summary offense or infraction or it could be a felony with a possible lengthy prison sentence attached to it. While each drug charge is different, having any drug offense conviction on your record can make it difficult to find employment. Fortunately, most states allow many types of drug charges to be expunged.
Expungement laws are different in each state. You can take a free online eligibility test to determine if your drug charge can be expunged. If your case is in a state for which we do not offer expungement services, please call a licensed attorney in your state. You should never take legal advice from a non-attorney or an attorney not licensed to practice law in the state where the drug offense occurred.
Why Get a Drug Offense Expunged?
If you have been convicted of a drug charge, you have most likely worried about how the conviction would affect your future. It is important to realize the significant consequences that come with a criminal conviction of any type, including a drug-related offense. The record can affect your employment, education, housing, and your ability to qualify for loans or professional licenses. Having a drug offense expunged from your record can have a great impact in lessening those negative consequences.
Studies have shown that a large majority of employers conduct background checks. Many employers, regardless of the specifics of a case, will reject a potential employee if anything at all appears on the criminal record check. And even those who do carefully read the report, employers in many industries will reject a former drug offender. They may not realize the varying levels of a drug charge or may not consider how much time has elapsed since your conviction.
Employers fear hiring someone who they think could be under the influence of drugs on the job. But once the record is expunged, obtaining employment should be much easier. Having your drug offense record expunged could mean that the employer will never be able to see the arrest or court case. An expungement or sealing may also allow you to honestly check off “no” to questions regarding your criminal record on employment and housing applications.
The specific benefits of an expungement will vary depending on what the state law provides. Expungement laws are designed to make worthy people have an easier time entering back into society. If you are eligible for any type of record clearing relief for your drug charge, it is best to take that opportunity, even if it may seem unnecessary for you at the time.
How to get a Drug Charge Expungement
The process for getting a drug charge removed from your record largely depends on where the offense occurred. State law dictates if and when you are eligible to have your record expunged, and, if you are eligible, state law also governs how the process for expungement works.
To request an expungement, you will need to file an application or petition with the court. The petition usually has to be sent to the district attorney or prosecutor’s office, as well. Their office must receive notification of the expungement request because they are afforded the opportunity to respond with any opposition or objections. In addition to hearing the prosecution’s position on the expungement, courts will also allow you as the petitioner to submit written testimony and supporting evidence with the expungement motion or petition.
Once filed, the court will review the petition and any filed opposition and determine if you are eligible and deserving to have the charges expunged. The court may schedule a hearing to allow both sides to offer their arguments with regards to the expungement request. Hiring an attorney can greatly improve your chances of successfully expunging a drug charge. An attorney will ensure the petition is filed properly and will also represent you at any hearings before a judge.
Chances of Expungement for a Drug Charge
It is extremely difficult to say what an individual’s chances of success are in expunging a drug charge. The chances can depend on the specific charge involved, the sentence, how long ago the case occurred, and the law of the state. Attorney Mathew Higbee says that his nationwide success rate is about 94% on drug possession expungement cases.
Some states provide a pathway to expungement if you completed a drug diversion program or another type of pre-trial intervention program. The best way to determine if you can expunge is your drug case is to first see if you are eligible to apply under the statute by taking our eligibility test. If you are statutorily eligible but remain concerned about your case, you can discuss the specifics of your charges with your attorney to see what type of evidence would be persuasive in the event the judge has discretion when deciding to grant or deny expungement of your drug charge(s).
Different Types of Drug Offenses
There are number offenses related to controlled substances for which one can be charged. A few of these criminal offenses include being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, possession with the intent to sell or distribute a controlled substance, transportation of a controlled substance and cultivation of marijuana.
As you may imagine, the way these offenses are handled in the criminal codes across the country varies; the same is also true of expungement laws. Some states may only allow expungement of minor drug offenses such as simple possession while some will permit felony conviction for transportation or distribution offenses to be expunged in certain circumstances.
Free Drug Charge Expungement Eligibility Test
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