When someone is convicted of drug charges, there are often immediate impacts, such as incarceration, fines, community service, and probation requirements. However, many people do not realize that there are long-lasting consequences of the conviction as well. Convictions can make it difficult to obtain housing and employment. However, drug convictions can no longer impact a student’s ability to obtain federal student aid.
While the restrictions that were formerly placed on federal financial aid for those convicted of drug crimes have been lifted, if you have been accused of a drug crime as a student, it is important to hire an experienced Monroe criminal defense lawyer who can help you determine an effective defense strategy focused at minimizing the effects of a conviction on your future.
FAFSA and Drug Convictions
Each year, millions of students can afford college through federal student loans. In order to receive these loans, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Previously, one of the questions listed on the application pertained to whether the applicant has had any drug-related convictions. Affirmative answers to that question required the student to fill out a worksheet in order to determine if the conviction affected their eligibility for aid.
A federal or state conviction for possession of illegal drugs or selling them no longer disqualifies the student from receiving federal student aid, including grants and new student loans. This includes offenses that occur while the student is receiving federal financial aid. Even applicants who are completing probation or parole or living in a recovery home can apply for educational funding. Additionally, as explained by the Federal Student Aid office, those who are incarcerated can still seek certain types of aid, such as Federal Pell Grants.
Other Types of Financial Aid that Can Be Impacted by a Drug Conviction
In addition to making federal financial aid available for students with drug crime convictions, regulations that previously prevented these individuals from seeking other types of aid have been eased as well. As explained by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), in order for an individual to have successful reentry into society after serving time for a felony drug conviction, they must be able to meet life’s basic necessities, such as food, health care, and housing.
Previously, those who had been convicted of a felony drug-related crime were unable to obtain food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Rights
While state and federal governments are making more types of financial aid available to those who have been convicted of drug-related crimes, many long-lasting consequences of a conviction remain and can make it more difficult for individuals to move forward and thrive after they’ve served their sentence.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will take a close look at the details of the police investigation that led to the defendant being charged in the first place. In some cases, evidence that is unfavorable to the defendant can be suppressed or the charges can be dismissed completely due to improper investigatory procedures.
In other cases, evidence can be presented that can show that the person who has been charged is innocent. In the absence of such evidence, a criminal defense attorney can often seek pre-trial diversion for a defendant who does not have prior convictions. Pre-trial diversion allows the defendant to complete drug treatment and meet other conditions put forth during a period of probation. After successfully completing probation, the charges are dismissed.
Having a sound defense strategy is one of the most important aspects of protecting yourself against the consequences of a conviction on drug charges. Having an attorney who understands the law and can protect your rights during the criminal process is equally important.
If You’ve Been Charged With a Drug-Related Crime, Contact John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm
If you’ve been charged with a drug-related crime or are being investigated for this type of crime, the best time to speak with a criminal defense attorney is as soon as possible. The team at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm has spent years protecting the rights of those accused of drug crimes in Louisiana. We can provide guidance to people who face drug-related charges and will work hard to protect their rights every step of the way.
Let us help you understand your legal options and assist you in developing a strategy for defending yourself against drug charges that can impact many facets of your life. For a free consultation, contact us online or by calling (318) 377-1555.