Millions of Americans have a criminal record that features a drug conviction. While these individuals often paid for their crimes through incarceration, the imposition of fines, and other court-ordered activities, having a criminal record can cause significant difficulty when an individual is looking for a job. Many employers ask on job applications whether the applicant has a previous drug history, and applicants are required to disclose that information.
If you were charged with a drug crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help develop a defense strategy based on the unique circumstances of your case that is designed to eliminate or reduce the consequences you face, including having to report a drug conviction to a prospective employer.
What Type of Information Is Available to Employers Through a Criminal Background Check?
While there is no time limit on how long a federal conviction can appear in a background check, many states have a limit that controls how far back a conviction can be and still be a consideration for employment.
Unfortunately, even if you were arrested but not convicted, an employer can use your arrest record for up to seven years when making hiring decisions due to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
When beginning your job search, it is important to know what a prospective employer might see when they access your criminal records. There are also several third-party companies that can perform a criminal background check on you. However, if there are errors on your report, it’s important to reach out to a lawyer to get these issues remedied and make your job search easier.
Be Honest About Your Drug Conviction
Many times, employers will not only ask the question on the job application but also perform a criminal background check that will reveal pertinent details about your conviction. However, even if the employer doesn’t perform a background check for hiring purposes, they can decide to perform this check later on, which may even cause you to lose your job.
Often, the job application provides a box that you must check about prior convictions but also provides a comment section. This allows the applicant to explain the circumstances of their conviction fully, providing the prospective employer with a better chance to understand how the conviction occurred and the changes that the applicant has made in their life since that time.
Arranging Your Resume to Highlight Your Skills, Not Your Gap in Employment
As explained by Indeed, one of the many issues that impact individuals when they are being considered for a job is large gaps in their employment history. However, it is possible to arrange your resume so that the skills you have obtained are at the forefront and employment gaps are downplayed by not listing their previous jobs chronologically.
It is important to reduce employment gaps during job interviews as well. Indeed notes that this can be accomplished by being honest about the reason for the gap but also pointing out any upskilling that was done during that time.
That said, it is also important to know that certain types of convictions can prevent an individual from seeking a position in specific industries. For example, some convictions can prevent an individual from obtaining a job in the banking industry, or ban them from obtaining employment in a job that requires the individual to carry a firearm or work with vulnerable people, such as small children and elderly individuals.
Can Criminal Records Be Expunged?
One of the ways that a person can prevent a drug conviction from appearing on their record is to have the conviction expunged. Expunging a criminal record is a legal process in which the arrest record and conviction are completely cleared, removing all potential impacts or the requirement of reporting the conviction on a job application.
In Louisiana, expungement is often an option for first-time offenders who have completed a drug treatment program and the requirements of their probation. In other types of drug-related cases, however, expungement is not possible due to provisions in the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law. There are often other options available, however, that can reduce the impact of a drug crime on your ability to find employment, including a plea deal in which the crime is charged as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
If You’ve Been Charged with a Drug Crime, Contact John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm
The team at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm can consider the details of your arrest, the evidence that the police have against you, and even the information that works in your favor to determine whether you’re eligible for pretrial diversion or even if errors during the investigation can result in having the case dismissed. If it’s not possible to avoid a conviction, we will work to negotiate a plea deal that minimizes the consequences associated with the conviction.