Houston Criminal Law Blog

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Arrested for Drug Possession: Can Your Boss Legally Fire You?

Being arrested for drug possession can have many negative effects on the lives of criminal defendants, and the possible loss of a job may be one of them. Employers in Texas who are overly worried about their business liability are likely to react in a knee-jerk fashion and fire a worker who has been arrested for possession of a controlled substance. However, not all employers are bound to react in this way.

Criminal offenses related to drug possession are handled differently across jurisdictions. In Texas, for example, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana may lead the arrest and prompt release of an individual along with an order to appear in court and answer to Class B misdemeanor charges. If such an arrest takes place outside of working hours and the case is eventually resolved without a jail sentence, an employer may never become aware of the issue.

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How Employers May Approach Drug Possession Arrests

Reasonable employers will not immediately move to terminate a worker upon learning about his or her arrest for drug possession; however, the seriousness of the charges may prompt immediate action. The major employer’s concerns are:

  • Would be the employee be able to perform his or her duties as scheduled?
  • How much time off work will be taken to resolve this issue?
  • If the employee is incarcerated, where should his or her paycheck be sent?

In some workplaces, there may be rules and guidelines on how to handle arrests, trials and convictions. Some employers may choose to give the affected workers personal leave to handle their legal affairs, particularly if the possible outcome only involves probation and community service.

Defendants who are automatically terminated after they are arrested for drug possession should notify their attorneys. Depending on the jurisdiction and on the circumstances of the firing, it may be considered discriminatory and could form the basis of a civil lawsuit against the employer. It is important to remember, however, that extended absences due to incarceration and court hearings could give employers valid reasons to terminate workers with cause.

Acquittal Versus Conviction

The employment future of an individual arrested for drug possession may be decided by certain factors intrinsic to the case. Once a worker has been arraigned, indicted or otherwise formally charged with drug possession, his or her employer could take the high road and issue a temporary suspension along with a reinstatement offer contingent upon acquittal. This temporary suspension could also become permanent in case of a conviction.

Depending on the relationship that the defendant may have with his or her boss, it may be a good idea to have a criminal defense attorney prepare a formal statement or otherwise offer to answer questions with regard to the case.

Drug Possession Attorney by Your Side

Getting charged with a drug related offense is a scary ordeal. If you have been arrested for having drugs, then you need to hire a criminal defense attorney ASAP. See how Matthew D. Sharp can help by calling 713-868-6100.

*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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