A drug charge on your record may do more than stigmatize you; it can affect your life in other serious ways. It can prevent you from renting an apartment or house, and from getting a decent job. There are some effective ways to prevent getting a drug charge put in your record, or to get the record sealed or expunged.
Completing a Drug Diversion Program
A diversion is a program that you can enter when you go to court, if you are eligible, and you may or may not have to enter a plea. When you successfully complete all the required steps, the drug charge will not be entered, or it will be erased, from your criminal history. This type of program usually lasts six months or longer.
This program may require you to:
Attend counseling sessions, group therapy, or a 12-step group
Enter into a more restrictive drug treatment program
Attend life-skill classes
Get vocational training/find employment
Perform community service work
Report for regular drug-testing.
The requirements differ by locality or state, and also by your charges and personal history.
Getting a Drug Charge Expunged
To get a drug charge expunged from your record, you will want to get a criminal lawyer to help you properly navigate the system. Most states have their own requirements. Once the charge is expunged, you no longer have to disclose it to potential landlords or employers.
A specific amount of time may have to pass after your conviction before you can seek to have the charge expunged. In some states, the judge who sentenced you will be the same judge to order an expungement, and they will want to see evidence that you are acting responsibly and are not likely to return to using illegal substances. This might include:
Records showing you have successfully completed all requirements of your conviction, and that all fees/fines were paid.
You remain free from any new charges.
Documentation that you attended and successfully completed a recovery program.
Proof of successful employment history since the conviction.
Obtaining a Certificate of Actual Innocence
This form of expungement, a certificate of actual innocence, is the best one to get because it is proof that you were innocent of the crime and should not have been charged. You are eligible to get this in most cases by showing that the charges against you were dropped or that you were found not guilty at trial.
Seeking Legal Assistance
A criminal lawyer can advise you on your best course of action and will complete all the paperwork for you.