A Drug Charge Can Plague You for Years
It might have resulted from just a youthful experimentation with drugs, but a drug charge can impact you long after it occurs. If you are convicted, you will have a criminal record that will affect your employment and educational opportunities, limit your ability to get decent housing, ruin your relationships, and rob you of self-esteem.
While more than one in four adults in America has a criminal record, most do not threaten public safety and will not go on to commit future crimes. Most recidivism occurs within three years of an arrest; after that, rates decrease to the point where people with old criminal records are no more likely to be arrested than those without a record. Still, they are cut off from jobs and other opportunities, and this perpetuates cycles of poverty and crime.
If you have been charged with a drug or other crime in Illinois, your criminal record will negatively impact your life in a multitude of areas. Due to the seriousness and complexity of Illinois criminal law, it is essential to get top-notch legal assistance. The experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances and requirements and will work with you to mount the most effective defense possible. We offer a free consultation, so contact us for help today at 630-305-0222 if you have been accused of any criminal charges.
How Criminal Records Hurt You
Too many people are afraid of hiring, living with, or dealing with anyone who has a past criminal record, even for something like a long-past youthful drug problem. This is despite the fact that it has been recognized that people who find meaningful work are less likely to keep committing crimes and usually become functioning members of society. One reason nearly 50 percent of ex-offenders in Illinois return to prison within three years is that they are prevented from getting decent jobs by old criminal records.
In Illinois, if you have had a drug conviction for possession, whether felony or misdemeanor, you cannot obtain any government student aid, loans, or grants for one year after a first conviction for possession; for two years after a second conviction, and for an indefinite amount of time after a third conviction. If the conviction was for a drug sale, you cannot obtain any government student aid, loans, or grants for two years after the first conviction and an indefinite amount of time after a second conviction.
About a quarter of all Illinois jobs require an occupational license, but many can be denied to people with a felony record. That includes health-care workers, jobs in cosmetology and geology, and jobs as diverse as architect, athletic trainer, nail technician, barber, lottery ticket agent, bingo conductor, and dance hall operator.
Progress in the Law
While problems for people with old criminal records persist, there have been some changes in recent laws and attitudes that help. These include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from excluding applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, still permits considering an applicant’s criminal history. However, in 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a guidance document restating that hiring policies which result in the disproportionate exclusion of people of color, who have the most criminal records, may violate the law.
- The Illinois “Job Opportunities For Qualified Applicants Act,” which took effect in January, 2015, prohibits employers from inquiring into, considering, or requiring the disclosure of a job applicant’s criminal history or background on a job application, and allows this to be asked only later in the hiring process.
- New Illinois laws allow some people with drug convictions and those for misdemeanor public indecency or misdemeanor prostitution to work at schools or park districts if at least seven years have passed since they completed their sentences. People convicted of other felonies, such as murder or sexual assault, are still banned from working in these areas.
- Effective January 1, 2017, Public Act 099-0886 (20 ILCS 2105/165) allows a licensed health-care worker convicted of previously-disqualifying forcible felonies to petition for a waiver of disqualification. People convicted of forcible felonies, including first-degree murder, aggravated battery, robbery and burglary, may now apply to obtain health-care licenses. To do this, convicted felons may petition to have a denied health-care license issued, or a revoked license reinstated, but not until five years after completion of their sentence or three years after their release from prison. Sex offenders or people who have been convicted of criminal battery against a patient are still banned from health-care licenses.
- Public Act 099-0876 allows people with records to obtain a license for occupations that include barbers, cosmetologists, nail technicians, hair braiders, roofers, funeral directors and embalmers. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation can no longer deny these licenses solely for having a criminal record, unless the conviction is directly related to the job or the conviction was for crimes like murder and kidnapping. Evidence of rehabilitation and factors such as the applicant’s age at the time of the crime must also be taken into consideration.
Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.
If you have been charged with drug or any other crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find. The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. will examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available in every situation. We work with our clients throughout the criminal process to come up with an effective defense strategy and determine whether to take a case to trial. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties, rights, and your ability to find employment.
We are aggressive litigators and will answer all of your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case. We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so contact us online or call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.