The Consequences of a Drug Conviction for Employment

A drug conviction in South Carolina, regardless of the severity, can cast a long shadow over your life, impacting not only your personal freedom, but also their ability to secure gainful employment.

Employers have the ability to access criminal background checks and often make hiring decisions based on their findings. This is why you must get legal representation from an experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after being charged. Let us explain in detail how a drug conviction negatively impacts your career.

The Legal Landscape: Convictions and Background Checks in South Carolina

There are many laws enabling background checks for drug convictions in South Carolina. Understanding how these laws work is crucial for anyone navigating the job market with a drug conviction on their record.

Statutory Authority

The primary statutory authority governing background checks in South Carolina is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) grants employers broader latitude in accessing criminal history information.

Employer Access to Criminal Records

  • Unrestricted Access: Unlike some states, South Carolina gives employers full access to an individual’s entire criminal record, including arrests, convictions, and even dismissed charges. This means that any drug-related offense, regardless of how minor or remote in time, could appear on a background check.
  • Exceptions: Some exceptions exist, however. Notably, employers cannot access juvenile records in most cases, and certain expunged convictions are also off-limits. Additionally, the South Carolina Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on certain protected classes, including those with arrests but no convictions.

The Role of Fair Chance Hiring Policies

While no statewide “Ban the Box” legislation exists in South Carolina, some local municipalities and specific employers have adopted fair chance hiring policies. These policies delay inquiries about criminal history until later in the hiring process, giving individuals with convictions a chance to showcase their skills and qualifications before their past becomes a factor.

Federal Regulations and Protections:

Beyond state statutes, federal regulations also play a role in background checks. Notably, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) oversees compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and (potentially) disability.

The EEOC has issued guidance emphasizing that employers must avoid using criminal history information in a discriminatory manner and must demonstrate a legitimate business justification for any adverse employment decisions based on such information.

Impact on Employment

The presence of a drug conviction on a background check can significantly hinder an individual’s job prospects. Potential consequences include:

Automatic Disqualification

Certain professions in South Carolina, such as those involving healthcare, education, or law enforcement, have strict licensing requirements that may automatically disqualify individuals with drug convictions.

being sentenced for a drug crime has a long lasting impact

Negative Hiring Decisions

Even for non-regulated professions, employers may be hesitant to hire individuals with drug convictions, particularly for positions requiring high levels of trust or safety. Concerns about potential drug use, decreased productivity, or negative publicity can influence hiring decisions.

Salary and Benefits

Even if an individual with a drug conviction secures employment, they may face lower salaries and limited access to benefits compared to their counterparts without criminal records.

Factors Affecting Severity

The severity of the impact on employment depends on several factors, including:

  • Type of Conviction: Felony drug convictions will likely have a more significant negative impact than misdemeanor convictions. The specific type of drug involved in the offense may also play a role.
  • Time Since Conviction: The longer it has been since the conviction, the less likely it is to negatively impact employment prospects.
  • Employment History and Qualifications: Individuals with strong qualifications and a positive employment history may be able to overcome the stigma associated with a drug conviction.

Mitigating the Impact

Individuals with drug convictions can take steps to mitigate the impact on their employment prospects, such as:

  • Expungement: Certain drug convictions in South Carolina may be eligible for expungement, which essentially removes them from an individual’s criminal record. This can significantly improve job prospects.
  • Rehabilitation Programs: Completing court-ordered or voluntary rehabilitation programs can demonstrate a commitment to recovery and responsibility, potentially improving an individual’s image in the eyes of potential employers.
  • Skills Development: Focusing on acquiring new skills and qualifications can make an individual more competitive in the job market, potentially overshadowing the negative impact of a drug conviction.

Contact a Greenville Criminal Defense Attorney for Guidance

Individuals with drug convictions facing employment challenges should seek legal advice from an experienced attorney who can guide them through the complexities of South Carolina law and explore available options for mitigating the impact of their record.

A drug conviction does not define your future, and with the expertise of Baldwin Law you can navigate the employment landscape and build a successful career. Contact us at 864-630-8503.

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