Federal drug convictions bring with them serious consequences, not all of which come directly from the criminal justice system. Depending on the circumstances and details surrounding a drug crime, a person could face a mandatory prison sentence, among other harsh repercussions. If you are a college student, your criminal act can potentially prevent you from returning to school.
How? According to U.S. News & World Report, those convicted of state or federal drug charges may lose their ability to retain financial aid. In other words, if you face drug charges and also use student aid or grant money to pursue your higher education, your criminal conviction could leave you on the financial hook by eliminating your ability to utilize federal assistance.
What sorts of drug convictions count?
Essentially, any type of drug conviction received at the state or federal level can impact financial aid eligibility, including convictions for possession, drug sales and others. You can expect there will be some variation as to the length of time your conviction will disqualify you from receiving financial aid.
More serious drug offenses tend to come with longer ineligibility periods, and vice versa. In other words, if you are a first-time drug offender and law enforcement officers found you in possession of personal drugs, you may only become ineligible for financial assistance for one year. If you are a second-time drug offender, however, you may become ineligible for financial aid for two years. Those facing a third or subsequent drug conviction can expect to become ineligible for assistance indefinitely.
Keep in mind that the time of your arrest is important when determining whether you may become ineligible for financial aid because of a drug conviction. Typically, you will only lose access to aid if authorities arrest you during the school year and at a time when you are already a financial aid recipient.
Working with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who has experience defending against all types of drug charges can help minimize the impact of a charge.