No one wants to carry the taint of a drug conviction. First of all, many drug crimes carry stiff potential prison sentences. And even though it can be just a bad decision in a night gone wild or a wakeup call to change your life, future employers aren’t always going to accept your explanations and assurances.
Worse, prosecutors and officers can be even more skeptical. That’s another reason it’s vital to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. If you’ve got a good one, you get many benefits folks just don’t think about.
Another Unspoken Benefit of a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer
A key advantage for you is that your needs and explanations get addressed to officers and prosecutors by a fellow professional they respect—one who knows how to present your arguments persuasively. It’s a lot different when they hear it from you, an amateur they consider a criminal. And your defense attorney might just discover defenses you never knew about that could change the whole ballgame for you.
But back to your problem, which you don’t have to solve alone. While pre-trial intervention or the solicitor's drug intervention program might be an option to remove the charge from your record, the state can refuse to let you participate.
There’s Another Way, If You Qualify
Luckily, you may have another option. It’s called a “conditional discharge.” Think of it like this: “discharged” means dismissed. To get the dismissal, you’ve got to meet conditions. We’ll get to that in a minute. But first…
How You Qualify
Here are the main points:
- First offenders only. You cannot have any prior convictions.
- Qualifying charges. You must be charged with drug possession, at least in court. Other drug charges don’t qualify, including possession with intent to distribute. But a good attorney might be able to convince the state to downgrade these charges to get you in.
- The types of drugs are virtually limitless. It includes marijuana, cocaine, heroin, benzos, LSD, and even methamphetamine and crack.
- This is a one-shot deal. If you got a conditional discharge before, you can’t do it again.
How It Works—Maybe Better Than You Thought
Be warned: The conditional discharge process has some teeth to it. Just hang on till the end.
- You plead guilty, but you’re not convicted or sentenced. I know that’s weird, but sometimes the law is. You’re only convicted and sentenced if you violate the conditions.
- The judge sets the conditions. Usually they’re agreed between you (through a skilled attorney, if you’re wise) and the state. I’ve had some cases where the only term was three months of good behavior. Conditions can include a series of clean drug tests, rehab completion, even a little probation.
- After you meet all the conditions, the charge is dismissed. You win!
- Clearing your record. Next, you apply to the court to expunge the charge, or remove it from your record. This requires a hearing for a judge to decide whether you get it.
- It gets even better. If the charge is expunged, the conditional discharge law gives you the legal right to lie about the charge. It states you can’t be found guilty of perjury or a false statement by failing to recite or even acknowledge the arrest. Yep, that’s right—like it never even happened.
- Cost. Court costs are $350 for general sessions charges or $150 for a magistrate or city court charge. Don’t complain about the cost; it’s an extremely small price to pay for wiping the slate clean.
Still Think You Don’t Need an Attorney?
We’re talking about a chance at shaving off a potential prison sentence for the right to deny you ever got arrested! If this were medicine, it’d be major surgery—and you don’t do that on yourself.
Serious problems need professional help. If you’ve got drug charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Don’t delay—set up a free meeting to strategize your case with us. It won’t be a bad experience, as we show in this quick video, and you might just get your peace of mind restored plus your goals for your case achieved.
In the meantime, if you’ve got other questions, always feel free to fill out our Get Help Now form at the top of this page for answers to your questions from our criminal defense attorneys.