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Monday, July 27, 2015

Nevada Revised Statute 176.515 New trial: Grounds; time for filing motion

https://www.polarisproject.org/storage/documents/Vacating_Convictions_Issue_Brief_FINAL.pdf

Speaks about a law to help you erase your record if you have a prostitution conviction.  As for Nevada, I wanted to weigh in on this issue for a few reasons.  Yes having a criminal record can at times be a barrier.  Sometimes there are jobs you might not be able to get, and even some landlords won't rent to you.  We've been dealing with this issue already in Nevada for some time - so let me go over a few points you might not be aware of.


First of all, are you trying to get a work permit or applying for a job?  If you're having a problem where obtaining a license, or work permit, is an issue, here's what I've seen done in the past.  There's a hearing you can go to where you can speak to the city council about giving you the card anyway despite your record.  Now I've seen people go in there prepared.  They don't wear cut-offs, or flip-flops.  If you feel you don't have a decent wardrobe, go to Savers, or the Goodwill, or some place where you can get cheap used clothing.  There's a big Savers down on Flamingo where I've been able to get all kinds of court clothes, work clothing, uniforms, etc. for like $1.00 literally.  So be sure to go in dressed for court.


Need a haircut?  You'd be surprised at how often they're advertised free in Craigslist.  Many new hairdressers do that to bring in new customers.  So check out the "free" section.  If not, Super Cuts usually has a $9.95 haircut option.  Can't find them?  Check out the beauty schools.  They have $5.00 haircuts.


Second, take some SWA members with you.  If you don't know any, get in touch with us at www.sexworkersanonymous.com  Many of us have gone through the process and can walk you through this.  But we can go along for moral support and also offer up a character reference.  When they see people coming in with you - they don't have to hear them speak.  They know you must be "ok" if you have friends coming into the meeting with you.


See if you can take other people with you to provide references like  your landlord, an ex-landlord, a pastor you know from church, a teacher, a counselor, social worker, etc.  I've shown up with my counselor before.  They usually can arrange to get paid for the time to go with you and usually love to have a field trip.


So if you're being blocked on a work permit because of your past record - you can sometimes go in and appeal this.  So far, every time I've seen someone go in with an SWA member, and a character reference of some kind, and someone from the company who wants to hire you - I've seen them get approved.  That means if the manager wants you to have the job - ask them if they'd go with you to the hearing.  Again, I've found they like field trips so don't be shy about asking.


Now if you're having trouble finding a job - please get in touch with us at www.sexworkersanonymous.com  We have a list of companies, especially casinos, that will hire you even with a prostitution record.  Even with a drug charge.  I've seen them hire people with drug sales and transport charges.  The only thing I've seen casinos balk at is fraud charges or ones involving violence.  But as long as you don't have a fraud or a violence charge - I've not seen you have a barrier to working in any of the major casinos.  There are a few that even hire felons.


Now they won't put you on a job handling money.  You won't be hired as a cashier, or a money changer, or taking money in any way.  But they will hire for other jobs like housekeeping, porter, marketing, food service, hostess, etc.  I've seen all kinds of jobs in the casinos even with a prostitution charge and even with a felony.   Now I'm not going to publish that list anymore than they do.  It's bad press to say "hey this casino hires ex-prostitutes and ex-drug dealers" so I respect that and don't publish the list either.


But my experience has been don't be afraid.  Over 80 percent of those working in Vegas are not saints.  They are forgiving if you're HONEST.  Now if you have a fraud charge or a violence change - then you might have to get creative on work.  There are day labor companies like Labor Ready where you get paid daily and they don't care about your criminal background.


There's a company I like to use in Henderson with people new in recovery.  They pay you $40 cash daily to come sell vitamins over the phone plus commissions.  Now $40 a day times five days is $200 a week.  There are weeklies in Vegas for $150 a week if you look around and $80 a week through the Alano clubs.  So on a bad week you can squeeze by with a job like that.  They don't ask about your background and don't care.  My experience has been any phone sales job in Vegas could care less about your background.


If you can stand on your feet - there is a company that pays you $25 an hour to do time share presentations.  They're always hiring.  You're not doing the selling - you're doing the presentations.  But just about any marketing company, or sales job, in Vegas will not care about your background.  Sitel has opened up a branch in Vegas and they also do not care one bit about your background.  So be open about it and don't bat an eye and they probably won't either.  I've done some sales jobs where I'm making $10,000 a week - so it's nothing to sneeze at.


When I've been cornered about my background, I've written it off as a "misunderstanding that I'm trying to get money up for a lawyer to repair" which is the truth.  I've had people go "oh I understand" and then it's not a problem.  Remember, this is Vegas where it means nothing generally unless you're trying to get a job at some churches.


If your landlord has an issue - tell them the same thing.  It's "a mistake and you're trying to get the money up for a lawyer to repair your record".   Nine out of 10 times I've heard them go "ok".  But if you're renting at the weekly motels like Siegel Suites or Sky Harbor - they could care less about your background.  If you're having trouble getting up the rent - I know lots of places you can get help with back rent, or money to move into another apartment.  Just ask us.


Now, SWA does know attorney's willing to donate their time to help you out on these types of matters IF you're committed to not returning to sex work.   Legal Aid sometimes can be of help but they're slow.  But if you feel you need an attorney - then let us know and maybe we can connect you to one who will donate his time.


But our experience has been that judges in Vegas are very understanding of not being able to afford an attorney.  I've done lots of things "in pro per" for myself and SWA members and the judges have been great to us so far.  We've got a lot of experience helping people prepare to expunge their records.  We know how to gather together information.  Like a list of rent receipts showing you've paid your rent on time.  Banking statements showing a stable income from a job source.  Letters from a pastor, monk, rabbi, or whatever your faith is.  School enrollment papers go a long way with judges - especially if you can show a report card.  Letters from your counselor are good talking about your "progress".  If you're attending SWA meetings - we'll prepare a letter for you talking about your attendance, and how hard you're working (if you are that is - we'll just verify what you are doing).   If you do volunteer work at the womans' shelter or food bank - that also goes a long way.  Essentially you're putting together paperwork to show that you have "changed" and you're moving forward and you have a legit source of income now.  We've found if you go in with your paperwork, a few good friends or supporters, and you speak honestly to the judge about what happened, your remorse, how you're leading a different life now, and how this record is holding you back - the judge will honor this request.  Especially if you can show him something concrete about how it's affecting you like a letter from a job saying they would have hired you but . . .


Now where we've found a real problem can be is with your porn online.  If you need to get porn taken down off the internet - we can show you how to do this in just about 99 percent of the cases we've gotten it down for you without having to pay the national debt to do so.


But that ties into knowing what's on the web about you before going job hunting.  Always "google" yourself first to see what does come up online.  Once you know what's there you can address it.


So if you need help with respect to anything to do with your record, and/or finding work, in Nevada, or any other state for that matter - get in touch with us and we'll see how we can help.


Failing that - you can look into a name change.  It is legal to do so and we've seen that in casual searches your records won't show up.  Now if you're going out for a job that requires a heavy background check that won't work.  But if you change your name legally and are going out for a simple job - it might not come up.


Also, if you had extensive domestic violence, and you have a pimp looking for you, you can talk to Social Security about changing your social security number.  They make special exceptions now on cases like this for that reason.  So you can also always talk to Social Security about changing your number also.

Another thing - if you have a charge coming up where you're going to be sentencing on a prostitution charge of some kind keep in mind that they do allow you to do "alternative sentencing" in most cases.  Not if it involved children - but as an adult yes.  What that means is that when the judge says "you're guilty" and he's going to sentence you - you can ask the judge "your honor may I be court order to a Sex Workers Anonymous program instead of incarceration?"  To that question so far, we've had the judge say yes in all but two cases.


In one case, the judge said he wanted her to have residential treatment.  Now there are no residential treatment programs in Nevada.  So we got on the phone and explained that to the judge and asked him if we could substitute in her coming to a meeting daily.  He agreed.


In the second case, the judge said he wanted residential treatment.  We pointed out there was no program in Nevada at that time.  He insisted.  Now we knew a program in Arizona that had a bed.  We asked if he'd accept an Arizona program instead of jail.  The judge agreed.   So we've found Nevada judges very open and reasonable with respect to sentencing.


Now there was a case in Nevada where the jail was very over-crowded.  We wrote the judge pointing this out and asked if she could be released considering it was her first offense, and assured him we would be offering case management of her on the outside.  It was her first offense so he agreed and let her out early.  I've also seen them shorten probation when a job has come up requiring them to move out of state.  Again showing judges tend to be quite reasonable in Nevada about these things.

But in the meantime - it is not hard to get work you can live on in Nevada even while your record stands.  You just got to know where to look!

Good luck!

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