Every employer is different when it comes to their hiring standards. That said, one of the most common tools used by employers during the hiring process is a criminal background check. If you have a prior misdemeanor drug charges on your record, it could be enough to cost you the job opportunity.
Remember: current and future employers have the right to discriminate against you based on your criminal history. Whether or not a prior conviction for drug possession costs you a job opportunity will depend on the employer, but they are within their right to base their decision on your previous conviction.
There are steps you can take to reduce the impact of your conviction, including expungement. Your best option in these cases is to avoid a conviction at all. Fighting back at trial could result in a full acquittal, allowing you walk away with a clean record. Reach out to the attorneys of Gerald Miller to learn more.
How a Misdemeanor Drug Charges in Minnesota Could Impact Your Career
A prior criminal conviction for drug possession is a matter of public record. There are countless databases available to prospective employers that provide easy access to your history of arrests and convictions. This information could cost you your dream job or even result in termination from your current position.
Employers in Minnesota are under no obligation to hire someone with a criminal record. For that reason, most employers will take into account a person’s prior convictions during the hiring process. Your current employer could also terminate you based on a conviction.
Whether or not a misdemeanor drug possession conviction will cost you a job will depend largely on the standards of the person doing the hiring. Some employers might not hold your record against you, but the reality is that many will. Any criminal conviction will put you at a disadvantage compared to other applicants.
Because of these consequences, it is important that you fight back against a conviction. This could mean taking your case to trial or negotiating a plea bargain that keeps a conviction off of your permanent record. There are different ways you could obtain a favorable outcome in your case, and the attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to help with all of them.
Other Consequences That Come With a Misdemeanor Drug Offense
The loss of a job opportunity is only one of the potential consequences of a misdemeanor drug possession conviction. You could also face statutory penalties like jail time or fines. Collateral consequences for these convictions could also greatly impact your life.
Statutory penalties for a criminal conviction are those penalties that are written into state law. They are the formal penalties that come with a conviction, and are typically in the form of jail time or fines. There are three different types of misdemeanor drug possession charges, and each of them have their own penalty range.
- Gross Misdemeanors. Possession of a controlled substance is a gross misdemeanor in cases involving mixtures that contain certain Schedule V controlled substances. The penalties for a conviction include a year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines.
- Any possession of savlia divinorum or synthetic cannabinoids is considered a misdemeanor. The same is true for possession of kratom by anyone under the age of 18. A conviction carries up to 90 days in jail.
- Petty misdemeanors. Possession of a small amount of marijuana is treated as a petty misdemeanor. The penalty for possessing less than 42.5 grams of marijuana is a fine of up to $300. There is no jail time associated with this offense.
Not every consequence that comes with a drug possession conviction is written into statutes. There are other consequences—known as collateral consequences—that can follow a conviction regardless of the sentence handed down by the court.
The loss of a job or job opportunity is one of the most common examples of a collateral consequence, but it is not the only example. If you have a misdemeanor drug conviction on your record, it could also impact your ability to maintain adequate housing. Just like employers, landlords also have the right to consider your criminal history when deciding to rent to you or not. Your rental application could be denied due to your previous conviction.
A prior drug conviction could impact your career in other ways. If your line of work requires a professional license, it could be in jeopardy following a misdemeanor drug conviction. There are numerous jobs that require professional licensing including doctors, nurses, and pilots. While a misdemeanor might not result in the revocation of a license in every case, there is no guarantee that it won’t be used against you.
Expungement Could Be An Option
As is the case in many states, Minnesota lawmakers have expanded the use of expungement in recent years. Expungement does not erase your prior conviction, but it does seal the records and allow you to answer truthfully on a job application that you do not have a conviction for possession.
Not everyone qualifies for expungement. The good news is that misdemeanor drug charges are one of the most common types of convictions that result in expungement. To expunge your misdemeanor drug possession conviction, you must be a first-time offender with no previous drug convictions. If that applies to you, the next step is to wait two years following the completion of your sentence. Once that time is passed, you have the right to seek expungement. Unlike certain felony cases, your underlying plea bargain agreement does not need to include special language that allows an expungement to go forward.
Expungement is a great option for those who qualify. For others, waiting on this option could lead to years of struggling to find a job. Expungement is a last-resort option and should not take the place of an aggressive defense at trial.
Beating Your Drug Charges is the Best-Case Scenario
An arrest for a misdemeanor drug charge never guarantees a conviction. It is possible that you could defend yourself at trial or even see the charges against you dropped by the prosecution. A favorable outcome is possible in these cases, but it will not just happen on its own. You need a strong defense strategy in order to secure the outcome you deserve. The attorneys of Gerald Miller could help you build that winning defense strategy.
There are numerous defenses available in a drug possession case. While not all of them will apply to your case, it is helpful to understand your options. Your attorney could work with you to develop the right defense based on he facts of your case. Some of the most common defense strategies include:
- Unlawful Search. Most drug possession cases result from some type of search. Whether the search is of your person, your car, or your home, anything found could be excluded if the police violate your rights.
- Lack of Evidence. There are times when the prosecutor simply lacks the evidence needed to secure a conviction. In these cases, one of the best options is to highlight the lack of evidence. Remember: it is the state’s burden to prove you are guilty.
- Mistake of Fact. Some arrests for drug possession are based on weak physical evidence. It is not uncommon for the police to make an arrest only to learn that the substance in question was not an illegal drug at all.
- Mistaken Identity. It is possible that the police could misidentify someone in a drug possession case. This is common when a controlled substance is seized from a vehicle or a home. Pointing the jury to the guilty party could be a strong defense option.
Talk to the Attorneys of Gerald Miller About Your Drug Charges in Minnesota
A misdemeanor might be the lowest tier of criminal offense under state law, but a misdemeanor drug charges could have lasting effects on your life and livelihood. While expungement could be an option, the best way to deal with a drug arrest is to fight back against a conviction. If you are ready to discuss the best defense strategy for your case, contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation.