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Back in 1987 when I was 17-years-old, I had a job working construction. I worked along two brothers who I befriended. After a while they started not showing up for work and my boss at the time asked me to go and tell them that if they did not show up to work the next day that they were going to be fired. He said he had people that wanted to work. After work that day, I went over to their home. While I was there (About 30 min) someone knocked on the door and I went to answer the door. I asked who it was there and received no answer. I went to open the door to see who was there, the door was pushed in, and the police arrested everyone in the apartment. The family were selling drugs and had firearms in the apartment. Since I was there, I was arrested along with everyone in the apartment. I told the police that I had nothing to do with anything in the apartment. They said that I was in the apartment and there was no way for them to believe I had nothing to do with it. I told the judge and my legal aid lawyer that I was not selling drugs and that everything in the house was not mine. While in court the brothers told my lawyer that I was not selling drugs and it went on deaf ears. The judge asked if I had a pager on me. I answered yes and I was told the officer saw the pager and thought it was a weapon. Therefore, he had probable cause to enter the apartment. The door was locked and there was no way for him to have seen my pager. By the time, the case was coming to an end I was married and had my second child on the way. My lawyer told me that if I go to trial and lose I would have to do 3 to 6 years jail time and that probation was best. I pled guilty and I received a 5-year probation sentence. After 2 years, the remainders of the years were dismissed. I applied for a certificate of relief of my disabilities and received it. As well as a certificate of good conduct. I have not had any drug or weapons charges since 1987 and have held jobs consistently.

I owned two businesses over the 23 years since my conviction. In 2009 I had to close my company due to the economy and started looking for work. I have run into many problems finding employment because of my past. My charges are in NY and California does not have to recognize the certificates I posses. It’s funny how they can recognize my felony but not my certificates. In 2008, I hired a lawyer in NY and had my civil right restored. I purchased a firearm and had it for 6 months. One day while I was home the DOJ came to my house and said that they made a mistake and collected the firearms and told me that there was nothing I can do. I am a law-abiding citizen, have not broken any laws, and want to get this charge removed so I may be able to achieve success working for someone else without this charge suppressing my chances. I am 40 years old now and will have a tough time finding a job already without having this felony stopping me from being able to get an interview because I have to answer this question on any application. Other states have an expungement process but NY State does not. I have tried multiple time to have this changed but I was told the only to have them removed was to die. I found this answer to be very disrespectful. In Washington DC you can have expungement after 7 years. In California you can have the same expungement after 10 years. NY state will never change this law that I am sure is very outdated and will keep many people from getting a second chance.

User story by Mike E in New York

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2 Responses Leave a comment

  1. Mathew Higbee, Esq says:

    I am sorry to hear about that bad experience. Sadly, people take plea bargains everyday without understanding the lifelong consequences of them and out of fear of trumped up criminal charges, giant legal bills, and poor legal representation. There is no justice in having you be penalized for such an offense 23 years later. If you have not done so already, join and we will send you updates on the law and information about how to help bring about positive changes.

  2. Pierre says:

    In Washington DC I was convied of carrying a pistol w/o a licence outside home or Business it was a Felony that happing 8 years ago at this point all I want is for it to be clear off my record for ever please tell me what can I do people please talk to me?????

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