You would think that once you get clean and finish treatment, it would just be a matter of willpower to get your life going again on the outside. After all, becoming willing and able is the hardest part, right? Not always the case. Unfortunately, if you or a loved one incurred a felony drug charge before going to a program, finding employment becomes a real problem. Federal law requires felons to disclose their convictions to employers when asked, period. But while some companies immediately toss out such applications, many job options still exist. So how do you go about getting a job with a felony drug charge?
Online Resources for Felons Seeking Work
Many online resources aim to help connect felons seeking work with employers willing to hire them. One such resource is Second Chance Jobs for Felons, which provides listings of both companies and open jobs. They offer a comprehensive (though not exhaustive) list of companies that hire felons. From Jail to Jobs is another project that provides a similar service. Their website can be found at jailtojobs.com.
Recovering addicts and alcoholics should be mindful of managing their expectations when applying to these companies. While each company has stated that they do indeed hire felons, that does not necessarily mean they will hire you. It’s always done on a case-by-case basis that’s contingent on several factors. Some things these employers consider are:
- The nature of the felony charge
- Whether that conflicts with the nature of the job
- How long ago it happened
- Rehab programs you’ve completed
- Character references
These and other factors influence employers’ decision whether to consider applicants with a felony charge.
Executive Fair Chance Business Pledge
“Now, a lot of time, [a> record disqualifies you from being a full participant in our society — even if you’ve already paid your debt to society. It means millions of Americans have difficulty even getting their foot in the door to try to get a job much less actually hang on to that job. That’s bad for not only those individuals, it’s bad for our economy. It’s bad for the communities that desperately need more role models who are gainfully employed. So we’ve got to make sure Americans who’ve paid their debt to society can earn their second chance.
– President Barack Obama, Rutgers University, November 2, 2015
In 2016, the White House issued a call-to-action known as the Fair Chance Business Pledge. The action sought to reform the criminal justice system by removing barriers from employment. Put simply: the president encouraged private companies to reconsider their policies on hiring convicted felons.
Many large companies in the league of Coca Cola and Facebook committed to the pledge, which creates a lot of hope for people with felonies seeking work. These jobs are now more accessible than ever. Many of them are listed in the resources above for people getting a job with a felony drug charge.
Aside from finding companies with lenient policies on criminal history, you may also have the option to expunge certain felonies.
Not all felonies or misdemeanors are permanent. Expungement laws vary by state, and the Restoration of Rights Project provides a detailed state-by-state breakdown of these rules.
California offers several expungement options depending on age and circumstance. Here is a general overview of our state’s approach to felony expungement as of early 2019 (for educational purposes only, always consult an attorney when seeking legal advice):
Court-Issued Rehab Certificate
Courts can issue certifications of rehab. These certificates directly affect employment considerations, and they operate as the first step in the pardon process.
Courts can defer sentencing for some felony convictions. Felonies can be treated as misdemeanors once probation is completed successfully. No sealing except for some misdemeanors committed underage.
Deferred entry of judgment and probation is available for first minor drug offense with a guilty plea. Successful completion results in charge dismissal, and the guilty plea may be withdrawn.
Sealing Underage Misdemeanors
Misdemeanors committed under age 18 may apply to have record sealed.
Juvenile adjudication records are generally confidential with the exception of serious offenses.
It is mandatory to seal records of non-conviction if the person submits a petition, a new law that went into effect January 2018. Sealing was previously discretionary.
Getting a Job with a Felony Drug Charge
You may wonder if companies can still see expunged felony drug charges. This answer varies by state, but in California, employers will usually see both the record itself and the fact that it was expunged. So while expunging felonies doesn’t always erase them entirely, it shows that you’ve made an effort to turn your life around.
If you or a loved one is seeking help for a substance abuse problem, our addiction counselors are available 24/7 by phone: 855-737-7363