Sometimes a mistake you made in the past can haunt your present. No matter how long ago it was or how sincerely you paid your dues, people hear the words felony or drug conviction and turn the other way.
Whether you’re worried about keeping your existing job or your chances of getting a new one, navigating company policies with a drug conviction affecting eligibility can be challenging. It can seem unfair for people who’ve been convicted of a crime and paid their dues to continue being treated unequally as they try to turn over a new leaf.
However, we’re here to empower you on your new journey. In this article, we dive into how companies consider a criminal record when you’re applying for a job.
How Do Drug Convictions Show on Your Record?
Different types of drug-related crimes are treated with different levels of severity. For example, crimes like the manufacture of drugs, theft of drugs, possession of drugs, distribution of drugs, consumption of drugs and disputes over drugs fall under the umbrella of drug-related crimes. But each of these charges is different.
Dealing with a drug-related felony charge can turn your life upside down. Even after serving time and paying the price, reintegrating into society with a drug conviction can be intimidating.
Because of the common assumption that felony offenders might be likely to reengage in illegal activities, companies usually have strict policies and checks in place to avoid hiring ex-felons and minimize reputational or liability risks. And it’s perfectly legal for a candidate to be denied employment because of a past criminal record.
Companies that required background checks usually outsource them to companies specializing in employee screening, or they may use online software.
When a company conducts a background check, it uses your Social Security number to check for any misdemeanor or criminal convictions, any pending court cases and any history of incarceration as an adult.
Each state has a unique system in place concerning felony history. For example, background checks in Arizona go back only seven years, but in other places, companies can do a background check of your whole life.
So whether your past shows up in an employment check depends on the rules and regulations in your state. And once a felony record shows up, the company will decide if that’s enough to keep it from hiring you.
What Jobs Have Zero Tolerance About Past Charges?
Can you become a nurse with a felony on your record? There are a few roles ex-felons are ineligible for, depending on the state. For example, a drug-related felony may prevent you from getting a job in a school, a child care center, a health care center or a pharmacy.
Private employers can use their discretion while hiring, but it’s usually harder to get a job that’s related to the type of crime committed. For example, an alcohol-related offense might prevent you from working in a liquor store or as a bartender. A money-related crime can prevent you from getting finance-related jobs. And a drug conviction affects your eligibility to work in health care, even as an assistant, as a nurse or at a pharmacy.
Usually, ex-convicts are unable to possess or obtain licenses or registrations. However, each state is different. Some states also ban ex-felons from working as trainers, dentists, veterinarians, radiographers, physician assistants or athletic trainers. Convicted felons might be prohibited from working in the banking, law, insurance, real estate and health care industries. And other states might be laxer about giving ex-felons second chances.
If you’re concerned about getting or keeping your job as a nurse with a drug-related offense on your record, you can try to get the charges expunged, sealed, vacated, reversed or pardoned.
And the good news is, although you’re obligated to disclose all convictions when you apply for your nursing license, some types of convictions won’t impact your application.
Do Drug-Related Charges Ever Go Off Your Record?
Expungement laws are different in every state and also depend on the type of drug charges you faced. For example, simple possession of drugs might be expunged from your record, but if you’re charged with conspiracy to distribute a drug, it might be harder to remove.
Fortunately, many states in America allow certain drug-related charges to be expunged. But until then, having a drug felony on your record will make it difficult for you to find employment.
As a rule of thumb, when attempting to get your charges expunged, never take legal advice from a person who isn’t licensed to practice law in the state in which you were charged with the offense.
What Is the Best Way to Keep a Mistake From Affecting Your Employment?
To maintain your workplace position after getting or retaining your job with a felony on your record, follow these steps.
- First, acknowledge what happened if it comes up at your workplace. Denying any allegations or lying about them won’t make it any easier for you to start fresh.
- Admit your mistake, but don’t justify it by focusing on your initial intentions. For example, if you were caught consuming drugs, don’t deny the allegation to your superiors or colleagues at work or try to justify it by saying you were just trying to have a fun weekend.
- Instead, concentrate on what you learned, and suggest a plan or a solution to make your coworkers more comfortable. For example, you can take ownership of your actions, share your lesson from the incident and suggest a solution for your employers to gain trust because you’ve learned from your mistake.
- Lastly, remember that you made a mistake and paid your dues, but a misdemeanor doesn’t have to ruin your life. Even if society doesn’t always support second chances, don’t stop believing in yourself and your dreams.
Learning From Your Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s crucial not to repeat them. If you’re struggling with drug addiction, find out more about our drug addiction treatment program here at FHE. We’ve worked with many patients, and we’re committed to ensuring you receive the best service.