Interviewer: What are some of the negative aspects that may occur on someone’s criminal record?Do you think people take that for granted sometimes?
Eric Sachs: I think they do. People don’t appreciate and don’t look far enough down into the future as to what happens. In New York, once you have a criminal record, it’s there. It doesn’t go away. There’s only very few exceptions that would allow for the sealing of a criminal record, one of those being youthful offender treatment, people who are 18 or younger, would have an opportunity to have their record sealed.As a matter of fact, I had a young man come in here today who had gotten a case in another state, figured not a big deal, he’s not from that state, he doesn’t care. He plead guilty to it. It was a crime. “You plead guilty to a crime.” I said now by him doing that, he gave himself a criminal record. Now at the age of 22 if he fills out any application for a job or to go to school and it says, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime,” the answer is going to be, “Yes.”
Having a Criminal Record with a Drug Related Charge Makes it Next to Impossible to Get a Good Job
Then undoubtedly they’re going to ask him what was it? It’s bad enough to have a record. You certainly don’t want to have on your record, drugs. Then you have to explain what was going on. I think the general public, when they see something about drugs, they think about people who are selling drugs. They don’t think about somebody who’s necessarily addicted to it as a victim. You get a connotation that if you’re involved with drugs, I don’t want you working for me. How do I know that you’re not still on drugs? I don’t want you coming to the work as a drug addict, and I don’t want you dealing with people.There’s so much involved when people don’t look down the road. These criminal records will, they’re there forever and it can be a big problem to people.
Potential Employers, Schools or Other Education Institutions Will Discriminate Against a Drug Related Offender
Interviewer: They’re going to have problems with employment and an employer may discriminate.
Eric Sachs: Absolutely. My conversation with people is if I had my choice of record, I think the only record that you could probably have some sympathy for would be a driving while intoxicated record. You can explain, I just came from a wedding, I came from a party, I had too much to drink at dinner, the theory being that most people who get DWIs are not criminals, they’re just white collar or blue collar or just average hard-working people that made a mistake and had one drink too many.When you get into any other crime, people now look at you as you’re a criminal. When you get involved with drugs, everyone knows drugs are illegal and you had to make an informed and intelligent decision to go out and buy drugs or sell drugs or do drugs whereas alcohol, we all have a drink with dinner. You go into a restaurant, there’s a wine list. Anytime that you’re going to make an application for school or employment and you have to answer what your conviction was or what your crime was, drugs is not a good one to have. Really none of them is good to have. Drugs is certainly not a good one to have.
Effect of Drug Related Charges on a Person’s Life
Interviewer: In your experience, in talking about the human factor, how do you see drug charges affect people’s lives?
Eric Sachs: I think that people who get these drug cases become shunned from society. There’s a couple of different types of people. There are people who are just what I call non-criminals, the innocent victims who become addicted to drugs. Perhaps they were prescribed some sort of pain killer and they got addicted to it. That is a big thing that goes on nowadays where people have shoulder surgery or shoulder injuries or knee injuries. Doctors prescribe them Vicodin or some sort of a pain killer. They become addicted to it, and it slowly but surely takes everything because you have to spend your money to buy more drugs.
Sharing or Offering to Share Pharmaceutical Drugs Constitutes an Illegal Drug Sale in the Eyes of the Law
Nowadays pharmacies are keeping track so you can’t get enough drugs to solve your need and you find yourself going to neighborhoods, to people, to buy drugs instead of in a pharmacy from somebody else. People start trading drugs because I have 50 pills today and you’re going to get 50 in two weeks. I’ll split mine with you. Now because we’re addicted to drugs and we’re sharing drugs, in New York State anytime you give or offer to give to somebody, that’s actually a drug sale even though money didn’t change hands.
Drug Related Charges Induce a Downward Spiral in a Person’s Life
These people, they get arrested. They start on a downward spiral. They spend their money. They get arrested. They throw their lives away, and drugs will do that. That’s what happens when you get involved in the criminal justice system. If you get arrested, now you have the expense of an attorney. If you are lucky enough to have an experienced attorney that can work out a deal and get you into rehabilitation, chances are that you’ve already lost your job. Hopefully your family stays around, but you tend to … You could lose everybody. I’ve seen people and we know people who have actually lost their lives by taking too many drugs or getting killed in the course of these drug crimes.
By Eric Sachs