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NY Defense Attorney Explains | The Impact of Drug Convictions on Employment in New York

Posted by Daniel DuBois | Oct 24, 2023 | 0 Comments

Hello and welcome back to the blog here at Dan DuBois Law, the home of best criminal defense lawyers in New York! Here on the blog, we like to make sure the good people of WNY are as informed of their rights as possible. We also cover things like what you should wear to court, why you need a criminal defense attorney by your side, and more. 

Understanding New York Drug Laws

Types of Drug Offenses in New York

Here in New York, there are 4 main categories for drug offenses; possession, sale, paraphernalia, and manufacturing. These are then further divided according to severity, but we'll keep it brief and generally applicable for you today. 

  • Possession: Simply put, it's having over a certain amount of a controlled substance. Generally, the amount is 500mg, so trace amounts of leftover might not necessarily trigger a possession charge. 
  • Sale: The selling or exchange of a controlled substance to another party. Sale is generally considered a more serious crime than possession. 
  • Paraphernalia: Owning or possession of something used for ingesting illicit substances.
    • For example, before state-wide marijuana legalization, pipes and bongs for smoking. 
  • Manufacturing: Creating or producing illicit substances, such as methamphetamines. 

Potential Penalties Upon Conviction

Penalties for these varying drug crimes depend on the severity of the offense. Possession scales on the amount, sale can vary depending on the quantity sold, and paraphernalia hinges on the state of the device, how much substance is present, and if it was being used when taken, manufacturing is similar in that it depends on if the substance is also present and other factors. Most manufacturing charges are felonies, except for Criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the second degree, which is a class A misdemeanor. See: N.Y. Pen. Law § 220.70

The Stigma Surrounding Drug Convictions

Drug convictions are not only scary, they also can carry a large amount of stigma, which could make your post-conviction life more stressful and difficult. 

Societal Perceptions of Drug Offenders

You've paid your debt to society after conviction and ready to get a fresh start. However that same society hasn't quite gotten the memo. People with drug offense records may be viewed as less trustworthy members of society and the workforce. Many employment opportunities require background checks, and a drug conviction may cause job disqualification. It could cause current employers to view you in a more negative and suspicious light. 

We're not just talking about raised eyebrows here. We mean real, tangible opportunities slipping through people's fingers because of a mistake they've atoned for. And this isn't just hearsay; studies underline the adversity faced by individuals with drug-related offenses in their past. They're often sidelined in job applications, face barriers in professional licensing, and sometimes, they're even restricted from participating in civic activities like voting or serving on a jury. Rebuilding that trust is an almost monumental task.

Drug Convictions and Employment Eligibility

Job Restrictions Imposed by Drug Convictions

A drug conviction can stick to your record like gum to a shoe, it causes a sticky situation when job hunting. Depending on the field, some industries might as well hang a "Do Not Enter" sign for applicants with drug histories. For example, sectors like healthcare, law enforcement, education—positions where you're in a role of trust or responsibility.

But it's not just about what's on paper. It's the whole package—background checks, the application process, interviews—it all becomes a minefield where one wrong step could spell a polite rejection email. And licenses? Those golden tickets to professional gigs? They come with their own set of hurdles, with boards often reluctant to hand them over to individuals with drug-related blemishes on their records.

New York State Laws Affecting Hiring Decisions

 Some laws are rooting for second chances. For instance, New York State's Article 23-A of the Correction Law requires employers to weigh specific factors before turning away a candidate based on past offenses (New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services). 

Under Article 23-A, employers can't just say, "Oh, a criminal record? No job for you!" They've got to consider things like:

  • The link between your conviction & the job: Is your past offense directly related to the job's duties? If it doesn't impact your ability to do the job, it shouldn't be held against you.
  • The time since the offense: Was your conviction a decade ago, and you've been on the straight and narrow since? Time matters.
  • Your age at the time of the offense: Were you just a kid who made a mistake? We've all been there.
  • The seriousness of the conviction: Not all offenses are created equal, and the law recognizes this.
  • Evidence of rehabilitation: You've worked hard to turn your life around—your efforts and character references count!

In a nutshell, employers have to give your application a fair chance, looking at who you are now, not who you were.

Navigating the Job Market with a Drug Record

Disclosing Your Conviction to Potential Employers

The dreaded disclosure. It's like a band-aid that you know you have to rip off. But when? And how?

Honesty is always the best policy. Many applications will ask you outright if you have a criminal record. While it's tempting to avoid it, being truthful upfront can save you a world of trouble later on. It shows potential employers that you're honest and transparent, qualities that are golden in any candidate!

Remember, it isn't just about being honest about your past, it's also about showcasing who you've become since. How you've grown, what you learned, be prepared to discuss aspects of your life like these.

Industries Known for Offering Second Chances

Believe it or not, some industries are more like welcoming harbors for those with a checkered past. Places where you're not defined by your worst mistake, but by your skills, dedication, and the contributions you can make.

Fields like construction, manufacturing, and even culinary arts are often more open to giving folks a fresh start. And then there are organizations specifically dedicated to helping individuals with records find employment. 

The Importance of Networking Post-Conviction

Networking becomes even more crucial when you're job hunting with a record. Connections can lead to opportunities that formal applications won't. Sometimes, it's all about finding someone willing to take a chance on you and advocate for your potential.

Also, remember to advocate for yourself. Craft your personal narrative in a way that shows you're more than your past; you're a valuable asset with much to offer. Attend job fairs, join support groups, 

Legal Solutions and Support Systems

Expungement and Record Sealing in NY

Here in New York, expungement for a criminal conviction doesn't really exist. Expunging would make it like the crime never occurred from the state's view. Only in certain circumstances, like acquittals and dismissed cases, may be eligible for expungement. The state does offer record sealing, however, which fulfills a similar function - giving you a more fresh start. Sealing accomplishes this by making it so that the record is only available to certain government agencies and is not publicly viewable. Having Buffalo NY's best criminal defense attorney on your side is key to exploring those avenues.  If you want more information on expungement vs sealing, check out our previous post on the topic.


Facing any charge is a stressful endeavor. If you or someone you know needs a criminal defense attorney, don't hesitate to reach out to DuBois Law. You're innocent until proven guilty.

Remember to stay up to date with our blog, where we regularly go over these higher-level looks at NY Law, go over the process of arrest, and more. Don't just take our word for it, check out our Testimonials and Google Reviews! Everyone deserves the best representation to prove their side, which is why we have financing plans to be flexible for you.

Save yourself the trouble of searching “best criminal defense lawyers near me,” remember to call Dan DuBois Law at (888)-NT-GULTY [(888) 684-8589] or fill out a contact form. Get your FREE consultation today.


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