According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, drug convictions account for nearly half of all arrests. Part of your defense against drug charges should also include a plan to have conviction records erased from your record, if possible.
What is expungement?
Expungement, or expunction, is the process of removing a conviction from your record. This means that you don’t need to disclose your conviction when you apply for a home loan or complete a job application. Those facing drug charges should ask their criminal defense attorney about possibilities to have their arrest and charges removed from their record. Not all charges can be removed from your record, though, so it’s important to be aware of what drug charges can be expunged and which cannot.
What can and cannot be expunged?
You’ll need to consult with an attorney as you mount your defense against drug charges, but be aware that not all crimes can be expunged, particularly crimes like felony-level assaults and sex crimes. Also, sometimes expungement is only available to erase arrests from your record, or may only be applied if a sentence is reversed. This means that you will likely have the opportunity to start the expungement process a few years after your conviction. Laws will vary depending on the severity of the crime and the amount of time that has passed, so it is important to find an attorney with experience in drug cases.
How do I start the process?
The process will be different in each state or county, but generally, you will need to file a petition. Your court should often have a checklist of documents to prepare in order to apply for expungement. You can often obtain these documents from the courts, but if you are not able to, you’ll need to take care to explain what steps you took to obtain documentation and why it was not available. In the state of Ohio, you can refer to the Office of Criminal Justice Services for more information.
As states start to legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, many people with marijuana possession charges are able to have their convictions removed from their records. Others who have been charged with drug possession may sometimes be able to have those convictions removed from their records as well. Consulting a drug possession lawyer can help you understand your eligibility.