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Last Updated on: 17th October 2023, 05:54 pm
Getting convicted of a federal drug crime can have some serious consequences if you live in or want to visit New York. New York has some strict laws about keeping people with drug convictions out. But it really depends on the specifics of your situation. Let’s break it down.
If you live in public housing in New York and get convicted of a federal drug felony, you can be evicted and banned from public housing for life. This is true even if it was a minor offense or just for personal use. New York has a “one strike and you’re out” policy for people with drug convictions living in public housing. Here’s a story about a grandmother in NY who got evicted over a small amount of marijuana.
This lifetime ban seems really harsh, especially if you’re trying to get your life back on track after a conviction. Having stable housing can help with recovery and rehabilitation. But New York wants to get tough on drugs in public housing. If you live in public housing, a federal drug conviction could leave you homeless.
A federal drug conviction can also make it really hard to get a job in New York. Lots of employers do criminal background checks. When they see a drug conviction, you probably won’t get hired. This is true even if you’ve already served your sentence and paid your dues.
There are some protections in New York against employment discrimination for people with criminal records. The New York Correction Law says employers can’t deny you a job just because of a conviction unless it’s directly related to the job. But in reality, many employers still discriminate.
There are also some jobs you’ll be legally banned from if you have a federal drug conviction, like working in health care or child care. So a drug conviction can really limit your job options in New York.
Trying to go to college after a federal drug conviction? Well you won’t be able to get any federal student loans or grants if you have a recent drug conviction. This federal aid ban lasts a year after your first offense, two years after your second, and indefinitely after your third. So a drug conviction can make college way harder to afford.
This ban seems hypocritical when the government is supposedly trying to help people get education and skills after incarceration. Some states like California and Washington have passed laws to allow student aid despite drug convictions. But not New York. The federal aid ban will still apply there.
Many public benefits like food stamps (SNAP) also aren’t available if you have a drug felony. The federal law blocks you from SNAP and TANF benefits if you have a felony drug conviction after August 22, 1996. This applies nationwide, including New York.
Again, it seems counterproductive to cut off food aid and cash assistance when people with convictions need help getting back on their feet. A few states like Washington found loopholes to avoid the benefits ban. But not New York, so you’ll likely be denied there.
If you don’t live in public housing, a federal drug conviction can still make finding housing difficult in New York. Many landlords do criminal background checks and don’t want to rent to people with drug convictions. Landlords worry you might start selling drugs from their property or cause other problems.
Some cities ban housing discrimination based on criminal records. New York City has a fair chance housing law that’s supposed to help. But many landlords still find ways to avoid renting to people with convictions. Be prepared for lots of housing rejections.
Trying to start your own business after a federal drug conviction? That could be tough in New York. The state requires a “good moral character” review for many occupational licenses. A drug conviction shows up as a red flag.
For example, you’ll have a hard time getting licensed as a real estate broker or barber with a drug conviction. The licensing boards can deny you just based on the conviction. So forget about starting a business if you have a record.
What if you want to run a business that does work for the government? Many government agencies can ban you from getting contracts if you have a federal drug conviction. There are actually laws prohibiting contracts with people who use drugs illegally.
For example, the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act says government contractors have to maintain a drug-free workplace. So people with drug convictions often can’t get these contracts. Another barrier to earning a living.
Even if you manage to start a business in New York with a federal drug conviction, getting funding will be a challenge. Just like with housing, many banks do criminal background checks on loan applicants. A drug conviction is seen as a red flag.
The banks worry you might use the money for illegal purposes or won’t be reliable in repaying. Even if the conviction was long ago, that black mark stays on your record. You’ll have a much harder time getting approved for small business loans.
Voting is one of our fundamental rights as U.S. citizens. But people with felony convictions, including federal drug offenses, lose their right to vote in New York. The state bans people on parole or in prison from voting.
Some states like Maine and Vermont allow people to vote while incarcerated. And 20 states restore voting rights after release from prison. But not New York. People there have to finish parole before re-gaining their right to vote.
Jury duty is seen as a civic responsibility. But people with federal felony convictions are banned from serving on juries in New York. The state sees people with convictions as morally “unfit” to serve on a jury.
This seems like another overly harsh restriction. Banning entire groups of people from juries also skews the jury pool. But in New York, a federal drug conviction means you lose your chance at this important civic duty.
Need any kind of federal permit or license for your work? A federal drug conviction can make you ineligible. For example, you can’t get a commercial driver’s license if you have a drug conviction. Any work requiring a federal permit – truck driving, explosives handling, dispensing medication – is off limits.
The federal government sees people with drug convictions as irresponsible or untrustworthy. So they impose bans on issuing permits and licenses. More barriers to earning a living and moving on with your life.
Want to buy a gun for hunting or self-defense after a federal drug conviction? Think again. Federal law bans anyone convicted of a felony or domestic violence from buying or owning firearms. A federal drug conviction counts as a felony.
Some states restore gun ownership rights if you get a conviction expunged or reduced to a misdemeanor. But in New York, the federal lifetime firearm ban still applies no matter what. A drug conviction means no guns allowed.
Got plans to travel internationally after serving your sentence? A federal drug conviction can complicate things. Many countries ban entry to people with drug convictions. For example, Canada can deny you entry for a conviction for just simple drug possession.
Trying to travel abroad with a federal drug conviction means you risk getting denied entry and sent back home. You have to apply for special waivers and permissions, which is a big hassle. So your travel options are limited.
Federal benefits like Social Security, Medicare, disability and veterans benefits also aren’t available if you have a federal drug conviction. You can be denied benefits for up to one year for a first offense and up to five years for subsequent offenses.
This seems unfair when you may have paid into these programs for years before a conviction. But federal law sees drug offenses as a reason to cut you off from benefits, even temporarily. So be prepared to be denied.
Many government and private jobs require security clearances to work on sensitive projects. But people with felony convictions like federal drug offenses are almost always denied clearances. The government sees convictions as a sign you can’t be trusted.
Some exceptions are made if the conviction was a long time ago. But in most cases, a federal drug conviction means you won’t qualify for security clearances, closing doors to lots of career options.
Many professions require special licenses, like doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, and engineers. But state licensing boards often deny licenses to applicants with felony drug convictions. Again, the conviction is seen as a sign of untrustworthiness.
Some states are passing laws to stop blanket license denials for people with criminal records. But in New York, many boards still deny licenses based solely on a drug conviction, regardless of the circumstances.
If you want to coach youth sports or be a scout leader after a federal drug conviction, forget it. New York bans people with all kinds of criminal convictions from working with kids. A drug offense is seen as putting children at risk.
This seems overly strict, especially for minor possession charges. People can change their lives after convictions. But New York still sees you as too much of a risk to be around children if you have any drug conviction.
Many finance jobs require professional certifications and licenses. But organizations like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) can ban you from getting licensed if you have a criminal record. Even minor drug convictions are seen as grounds for denial.
So if you want to have a career in finance after a federal drug conviction, you’ll have major hurdles to getting licensed in New York. You may be automatically disqualified by FINRA before you even get started.
Jobs in public transportation like driving a bus or train often do criminal background checks too. The transit agencies worry about safety risks from employees with drug convictions. So you’ll have a hard time working for any public transportation providers.
Private transportation companies like Uber also frequently ban drivers with drug offenses. So your options for working in transportation will be very limited after a federal conviction.
Want to work in home healthcare after a federal drug conviction? Probably not going to happen. Home healthcare agencies almost always do criminal background checks. And a drug conviction is seen as making you too high risk to send into patients’ homes.
Never mind if the conviction was years ago for a minor offense. The home healthcare industry sees any drug conviction as a liability. Another door closed to earning a living and getting your life back.
It’s the same story if you want to work in nursing homes, assisted living or other elder care. These facilities do strict background checks and won’t hire people with drug convictions. Again, the conviction makes you seem like too much of a risk around vulnerable seniors.
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