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What is a Criminal Drug Record?

A drug record is a list of offenses that one person has committed that involve drug crimes. This is listed in the person’s criminal record, which is usually kept by local or county recording authorities. Although they aren’t classified as violent offenses, drug offenses can weigh very heavily on one’s record. 

This is because most public policies view drugs and drug-related behavior as very dangerous to society as a whole.  As such, a person with drug charges on their record may have difficulty with certain aspects of life, such as applying for a job or for housing. 

Is Clearing a Criminal Drug Record Possible?

Due to the negative effects of having a drug record on file, many people may be interested in clearing a drug record. This process is known as “expungement” and may be available for certain persons who have a criminal record. Some requirements needed to expunge a record may include:

  • Filing a request- expungement is not immediately granted and must be specifically requested by the individual.
  • Completing all sentencing requirements-  The person should have completed all jail or prison sentences, probation/parole requirements, and any community service or similar programs.
  • Waiting period- after the sentences are completed, the person must usually wait a certain amount of time before they can file for expungement.  This can be anywhere from 5-10 years after the sentence is completed.
  • Good behavior”- The person usually has to demonstrate “good behavior” or positive conduct; that is, they should have no further violations or citations after their last sentence.

These requirements may vary from state to state and according to the nature of the drug charges. Clearing a criminal record can also take some time to fully process.

What Is Expungement of Federal Criminal Drug Record?

Under Section 404 of the Controlled Substance Act, a drug conviction can be expunged of sealed if the following apply:

  • You have no prior federal or state drug convictions in any state
  • You have no prior history before the court before this present charge
  • You agree to plead guilty, then: the court may place you on probation for a year without entering a judgement

Are There Differences Between Felony and Misdemeanor Drug Charges?

For the purposes of a person’s criminal or drug record, there is a strong difference between felony drug charges and misdemeanor charges. In short, felony drug charges are much more difficult to have expunged or cleared than misdemeanor charges. While it is possible to have a felony charge cleared, courts are generally more open to clearing misdemeanor charges. 

An example of a felony drug charge is drug trafficking or distribution of drug. These are usually classified as felony charges. In contrast, a common misdemeanor drug charge is simple possession of a small amount of drugs. Part of this distinction is again due to the fact that distribution of drugs is considered more dangerous to society than is simple possession.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help Clearing a Criminal Drug Record?

Clearing a criminal drug record is not available in all instances, and can sometimes be a complex process. You may need to hire a qualified criminal defense lawyer if you need help with clearing a drug record. Your attorney can provide you legal advice and can help determine your eligibility for clearing a criminal record.  Also, your attorney can provide you with legal representation if you need to make an appearance before a judge.

Photo of page author Ki Akhbari

, LegalMatch Writer

Last Modified: 02-03-2017 04:14 PM PST

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