I am 18 years old and I was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance on the street. I took a pill that someone gave to me that turned out to be ecstacy. I was booked and released after a few hours. My court date is next month and I want to know how to prepare and what will happen. I live in California, I am a college student, and I have never had anything bad happen before and I was only charged with being under the influence.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Hi. As criminal charges go, this is not a very serious one, but I want to tell you that ANY criminal conviction and even arrests can be very damaging to your life. I get calls from a lot of people complaining that ten and twenty years after an arrest or a misdemeanor conviction, they can't get the good jobs, or lose them after a background check, so please take this charge seriously. No, you are unlikely to go to jail on this minor offense, so you can relax on that.
But arrest recordd will stay with you forever. They affect jobs, the granting of a professional license (dentist, private investigator, beautician, building contractor, realtor, auto mechanic, plumber, etc) It also affects child custody disputes, insurance rates, credit apps and interest rates, security clearances, and even whether you will be allowed to coach your son's Little League team when that time comes.
The solution is to fight the charge, avoid a conviction and then bring a petition for factual innocence under Penal Code Sec. 851.8, by which the arrest record is sealed and after three years, totally destroyed. You'll have a clean record again.
If you want to learn more about this process, you can read the articles on my web site here, and/or give me a call for a free consultation.
I am close enough to your area that I could help if you wished, defending the case and bringing the petition for factual innocence.
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