If you receive a conviction for a serious drug offense, you can expect that it will impact numerous areas of your life. From your ability to find a job to your ability to secure housing or student loans, a serious drug conviction can have severe collateral consequences that can impact your life for many years and even permanently.

Just what are collateral consequences for drug crimes, and is there any way to avoid them?

Understanding collateral consequences for drug crimes

Essentially, “collateral consequences” refers to any penalties or punishments you may face that differ from fines, jail time or mandated substance abuse treatment. For example, if you receive a conviction of simple possession after you are caught in New York with, say, a joint, a collateral consequence would be that you may not receive any money in federal student loans for at least a year.

Similarly, if you receive a Class B misdemeanor drug conviction, you may not live within a New York City Housing Authority property for at least three years, starting with the day of your release from jail.

Exploring options for getting your rights back

If you lose certain rights or benefits because of your drug conviction, you may, depending on the circumstances surrounding your crime and criminal history, be able to have certain consequences removed by obtaining one of two documents.

The first is a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, which you may be able to seek if you have misdemeanor convictions, but not more than one felony conviction. You can attempt to get a CRD at your sentencing, after your sentencing, or after you spend time in a state prison.

The second is a Certificate of Good Conduct, which you may be able to pursue if you have two or more felony convictions, or want to work in public service. There are also time restrictions associated with when you can pursue a CGC, but they vary based on the severity of your conviction.

If you are facing challenges because of collateral consequences associated with your drug conviction, do your research. You may be able to find a way to remove some of them and return to life as you once knew it.