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Non-Violent Ex-offenders May Be Able to Have Their Records Expunged in Some States

The Atlantic ran an article this month about an ex-offender with drug-related charges who had his record expunged after completing an approved diversion/rehabilitation program in California. A criminal defense attorney may be able to do the same for you.

Structured Rehab Programs Helps Addicts Stay Clean

The ex-offender, whose name was Adrian Silva, had been in and out of prisons for 15 to 20 years on drug-related charges. Silva was addicted to meth, and would shoplift and perform other non-violent crimes in order to pay for his addiction. He would be released from prison and in as little as four days, find himself arrested and back in court. He reached rock-bottom around the age of 50, and was referred to California’s drug court as an option for getting clean and staying out of the prison system for good. The drug court recommended a highly structured rehab program that required Silva to eliminate contact with former friends, and avoid his old neighborhoods and bars. That, along with other measures taken by Silva on the recommendation of the program, has helped him succeed beyond bars in society.

After fulfilling the structured rehab program through the state’s drug court, Silva was able to find employment restoring cars as an auto mechanic. Through this employment, he paid off his outstanding child support and other fines. He had been sober and clean for 1,401 days at the time of the article, and dedicates time to mentoring other recovering addicts to sobriety. In his words, an addict is always an addict, but by conscientiously addressing the underlying issues of his illness he is able to stay clean and employed.

Starting over with a Clean Slate

Oftentimes addicts are barred from finding employment or a place to live after being released, due to the stringent background checks organizations use to filter applicants for jobs and apartments. Although these addicts have never been violent towards society, they are often treated as a threat to their community and this makes it difficult to stay clean. Having a drug-related charge on their records makes it hard to secure employment or a lease, which sometimes leads these people to re-offend. Structured rehab programs or diversion programs may allow non-violent addicts to have their records expunged, which opens up new avenues to finding income and a home.

Expungement means that the criminal record is sealed and unavailable to most background checks. It can make finding an apartment and a job easier for the ex-offender, and give them options for creating income above-the-board. It can reduce their chances of re-offending, and help them create a life for themselves beyond bars. It, in effect, clears their name and assists them in starting fresh once clean.

New York Criminal Procedure Law May Open Avenues for You

New York State offers the same expungement option to non-violent offenders with drug-related charges through New York Criminal Procedure Law § 160.58. The offenders must complete a state-approved diversion or rehabilitation program first. These diversion or rehabilitation programs are often highly demanding and structured environments, and will help you to seal your record and learn skills for creating a life outside of the prison system. Talk to attorney Phillip J. Murphy today to find out if this option is available to you, and what your next steps might be to clearing your name.

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