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I was 21 when I was arrested along with my friend for drug possession.  He was the driver and I was the passenger.  We were going to a friends house on a Friday night at 2:00 in the morning after our night work shift ended to get together with a few friends to have some beers and smoke a few joints.  The driver, myself, and another friend were tasked with picking up some marijuana on the way over.  We all chipped in and bought an ounce of weed for us to all to split and share with the other guys waiting on us.  We were pulled over on the way for a busted headlight and the officer decided he wanted to search the car for whatever reason.  We put the marijuana in the glove compartment when we were getting pulled over so he found it during the search along with a one hitter little pipe my friend had in his car.  I admit I was going to smoke some pot and have some beers but what I didn’t know was that a few weeks before this night apparently my friend had bought some coccaine in one of those small little square bags.  I had never even tried coccaine and wasn’t with him when he got it weeks before.  There wasn’t even any in the little baggy thing because he had already used it the night he bought it.  Apparently any trace of coccaine whatsoever is an automatic felony.  Well, the officer arrested us and charged us both with the whole amount of marijuana as well as the pipe periphenalia and also the coccaine possesion which I had nothing to do with but I guess the law states  the whole car gets charged with everything.  Anyways the marijuana which 3 of us chipped in on was over 20 grams total so that was a felony also.

Now here’s my issue.  I accept responsibility for my actions and admit we broke the law, but we were both charged with 2 felony counts of controlled substance and one count misdemeanor drug periphenalia for his little pipe.
First of all, it wasn’t my pipe, secondly I had nothing to do with the coccaine nor did I even know it was in the car, and lastly the bag of marijuana that I did help to purchase was split between three people and we were all charged with the whole bag.  I should have only been charged with one third of the marijuana which would have been like 7 grams or so making it a misdemeanor instead of a felony.  Instead of only one charge I agree I should have gotten which is one count of misdemeanor possession of marijuana, I was charged with felony possession of marijuana over 20 grams plus felony possession of coccaine plus misdemeanor possession of a pipe.
I did not have enough money for a lawyer and had no parents to help me so I had a public defender that did nothing so I ended up getting screwed over with no mercy.  I was convicted of both felonies and the misdemeanor and the judge didn’t withhold adjudication  and have me 3 years probation which my probation officer recommended me for early release after a little over a year which was granted so I’m not eligible for seal or expungement because of the adjudication.
I was only 21 and had never been in trouble before in my life.  The driver I was riding with had his parents get him an attorney so he got some type of drug counseling program that took a year and then he was withheld adjudication so now he doesn’t have felonies showing up on his background checks.  I didn’t have anything to do with 2 of the charges and I am now scarred for life with my background and my friend was responsible for the pipe and coccaine which I had no part of and he has a clean background simply because he had a lawyer and I didn’t.  I just feel like I should only have been charged with the one misdemeanor possession which I would have probably gotten some simple probation or something and no record but now I have a terrible background that in no way represents who I really am as a person.
Even with all the charges that I did get, I believe the judge should have atleast considered the fact that I was a 21 year old kid arrested for the first time ever and he should have withheld adjudication and told me something like “If this happens again I will adjudicate you.”
This was 11 years ago and I am now 32, married, and I have 3 children with one on the way.  I decided to go to college at 28 years old because I couldn’t find any work due to my background after being hired several times by several different companies and then being turned down the job after they did a background check on me.  I wanted a college degree so I would have a good career plus I assumed it would show that I was a goal oriented career minded individual who was a hard worker and just wanted to support his family.  I graduated last December in 2012 and I have applied at every job within 3 counties and can’t get a job still because of my background.
Listen, I was young, made a mistake, and paid my fines and served my probation.  It’s been 11 years and I have never gotten in any trouble ever before or since this one night.  I have a wife and family to support.  I just got a college degree and am ready to buy a house and lead a good life but I’m still struggling and suffering the consequences for the rest of life because of one night when I was 21.  This just doesn’t seem right.  I feel I have proven what type of person I am and I only ask for a second chance at a good life.  If not for me, then for my family.  I just wish adjudicated records could be expunged or sealed depending on the the type of crime, the amount of time since the crime, and considering the age I was when I committed the crime.
All said and done, shouldn’t the government say, “look, this kid was 21 and it was his first offense.  He didn’t kill anyone, rob anyone, rape anyone, assult anyone or anything else to harm anyone at all.  He just was partying with some friends smoking pot at 21.  Let’s give this guy a second chance.  He hasn’t gotten in any trouble since his arrest and he even got a college degree.  He has a family to support.”  That just seems logical and fair to me.  I deserve this.  I’m sorry for what I did and I don’t do any drugs at all and rarely have a beer if we go to dinner somewhere.  I’m a good man and just want the chance to live the american dream with a good job, great family, and nice home.  With the current laws regarding sealing and expunging, my dream just doesn’t seem as if it will ever come true.
I lobby for change that focuses more on the specifics of the crime before punishment is handed down.  Can’t we take into account prior record, age of the person, type of crime whether being violent or simply drug use (not selling or growing) but only personal use and other types of stuff before we just scar a person’s record and ability to achieve success for the rest of their life.  Honestly, it actually hurts the government also because instead of being self sufficient and working, I can’t get a job and was receiving food stamps, wic, and tons of financial aid for my college that I now can’t pay back because I can’t get a job.  We need change!
User story by TooHarsh in Florida

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