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Can I teach with a felony?

  1. Sep 25, 2014 #1
    I plead guilty to a felony drug charge when I was 18. The judge allowed me to enter drug court and since I successfully completed the required probation the charges were dropped and sealed. It doesn't matter that the record was sealed because the state conducts a BCA background check and the case shows up. I was not convicted of a felony but since I plead guilty it still shows that the verdict did not end in my favor.

    I hired a lawyer to try and expunge the record but the county attorney fought it tooth and nail and was able to argue that the county court did not have the authority to expunge the case. My attorney wasn't able to prove otherwise. Therefore, I can't get a teaching license in my state (I live in the U.S.A.). Does anyone know if I can teach in certain states within the U.S. or other countries? I love Math and would like to teach it to others for a living.

    Sounds like double jeopardy to me.

    Last edited: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2014 #2
    Possibly talk with your employer and explain the situation and your young age of 18 when it happened.
  4. Sep 26, 2014 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Fellowroot, it doesn't work like that. State laws prohibit certifying teachers that have committed certain crimes. Rosebud wants to know in which states, if any, do not have drug felonies on that list. Individual employers do not have discretion here.
  5. Sep 26, 2014 #4


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    "Double jeopardy" is the constitutional provision which keeps you from being prosecuted twice for the same offense. It does not prevent your punishment for a felony conviction from being limited to fines and/or probation or a term of incarceration.

    A felony conviction comes with all sorts of attached disqualifications for various things, which is not 'double jeopardy':

    1. Like you have found from personal experience, a felony conviction prevents you from getting a teaching certificate.
    It also disqualifies one from being admitted to the bar or obtaining a medical license, or other professional license, or working in law enforcement or enlisting in military service without a special waiver, which are hard to get.
    2. Your civil right to vote may also be suspended for varying periods, unless you petition to have it re-instated.
    3. Your right to purchase or own a firearm is nullified.
    4. Your right to serve on a jury is nullified.
    5. You may find it hard, if not impossible, to get admitted to college.


    The following article shows how the laws of one state, Connecticut, weigh in on this issue:


    It's not clear what type of practice your attorney was in when he tried to get your conviction expunged, but you need to go about this process with the advice of a good criminal defense attorney, who are usually pretty expensive.
  6. Sep 27, 2014 #5


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    Just be wary, expensive lawyers are going to try to sell you their services, they will speak soothingly and probably oversell the likelihood that it'll work. I think there is little chance of it succeeding. It is not out of cruelty that I say this, it is my estimation of what the litigators will think of this case. If they expunge the record, there is then no record whatever, you can become a child psychologist or whatever. And probably your conviction was about "intent to distribute", so it's very easy for them to say, you could do it again, and school pupils are some of the most willing purchasers or users.

    If it was auto theft or something like that, I would say there would be a good chance of clearing it. If it is merely possessing a small quantity of drugs, that could be argued in court as being not nefarious because it was merely personal. But if it is for intent to distribute, I think it won't happen, the argument I gave is too strong: what you stop you doing in again when the incentive is there?

    One other thing, I think the only option is to fight this at the state level, to try to get it cleared. The county court must have seemed like a very important court but the response has been, this is not the right court. The federal system is not the right place either, they will merely assert that the state has the right to clear it and the fight should be taken up there. If it is worth fighting, it's worth fighting there only, at the highest state level available. Then they can't say, they don't have jurisdiction. What they can say is, no.
  7. Sep 27, 2014 #6


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    You might be able to get a job teaching at a private school which isn't restricted to hiring only credentialed teachers.
  8. Sep 30, 2014 #7


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    To the OP: Since the county attorney had successfully argued that the county court does not have jurisdiction to expunge your record, the logical next step would be to take this fight to the state courts (as verty has suggested) through an appeal process.
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