When you apply for a job, a criminal background check is pretty much standard. Roughly 96% of employers in America today use them, to some degree or another.
That’s bad news if you happen to have a conviction for a drug-related crime on your record. In fact, there are specific restrictions on licensing that effectively bar people with a criminal record from finding employment in certain occupations. For example, Tennessee law actively bars ex-offenders from holding such varied positions as an auto salesman, a hairstylist and a polygraph examiner. In 2016, state reforms designed to address the issue of licensing restrictions eased the way for those in just eight occupations, including servers in restaurants or bars and barbers.
And Tennessee isn’t alone. Across the nation, ex-felons face more than 12,000 occupational restrictions that make earning a living harder, including many mandatory disqualifications that will stop them from obtaining a professional license that’s necessary to do their job.
Even if you aren’t barred from a job by licensing snags, no law that restricts how far back into your past that an employer can dig, if they’re so inclined. Nor are they required to overlook a conviction during the hiring process, no matter how old that conviction may be. Many employers won’t overlook a past conviction for drugs because they tend to assume that indicates an applicant suffers from addiction, could be unreliable and might steal to support their habits.
If you’re facing criminal charges of any kind related to drugs, whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony, take the necessary steps talk with an experienced attorney who can work to protect your future.