On November 3, 2020, Arizona voters passed Prop 207 “Smart and Safe Arizona Act,” legalizing recreational adult use of marijuana. The Act went beyond mere legalization and made it possible to expunge certain marijuana prior convictions.
What is Expungement?
Expunge means to “erase or remove completely.” For criminal convictions, expungement would destroy or seal the record of a criminal conviction, essentially erasing it from a person’s criminal and public record. Arizona has not had a true expungement process until Prop 207 passed. Now, Arizona has an expungement process, but only for certain marijuana convictions. Before Prop 207, the closest thing Arizona had to expungement is a set aside. A set aside under A.R.S. 13-905 vacates the judgement of guilt and dismisses the charges against a person, but the conviction will still show on a person’s record.
What Can Be Expunged?
Starting July 12, 2021, you can start applying for expungement of certain marijuana offenses. There are three specific types of marijuana offenses listed in the statute, A.R.S. 36-2862, which are eligible for expungement.
- Personal possession of marijuana: Possessing, consuming, or transporting up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana (of which up to 12.5 g can be in the form of marijuana concentrate).
- Personal cultivation of marijuana: Possessing, transporting, cultivating, or processing up to 6 plants at a personal residence for personal use.
- Marijuana paraphernalia: Possessing, using, or transporting paraphernalia related to the cultivation, manufacture, processing, or consumption of marijuana.
If you were a minor when you got a marijuana-related charge, don’t worry! Expungement applies to adult and juvenile offenses.
What Does Expunging these Convictions Do?
If the judge grants the petition for expungement, the conviction or adjudication will be vacated and the record of the arrest, charge, conviction, adjudication, or sentence is expunged. If the conviction resulted in the loss of a person’s civil rights, then those civil rights, including the right to possess firearms, are reinstated as part of the expungement. It is important to mention here that if the person has any other felony conviction which also would have resulted in that person losing their civil rights – this expungement does NOT restore those civil rights lost due to any other felony convictions. Unlike the set aside process mentioned above, these expungements DO seal and remove the record of the arrest, charge, adjudication, conviction or sentence from a person’s criminal history. A prosecuting agency also cannot use an expunged conviction in any subsequent prosecution, either for sentencing enhancement as a repetitive offender or for aggravating circumstances. Finally, if the only criminal history a person has is the expunged charge, the law specifically states that a person may lawfully declare that they have “never been arrested for, charged with, adjudicated or convicted of, or sentenced for” the crime that has been expunged.
Expunging these records can change your life. Expungement can improve your employment prospects, including fingerprint clearance, background checks, and professional licenses. Expungement can expand your opportunities to obtain housing and other government benefits. Expungement can even help in child custody situations. Expungement is the final step in moving past that chapter in your life.
How to Expunge my Marijuana Conviction
Beginning July 12, 2021, you may file a petition for expungement with the court. The prosecuting agency then has 30 days to respond to that petition. The court may order a hearing on the petition. The court must grant the petition unless the prosecuting agency proves by clear and convincing evidence that the petitioner or charge is not eligible for expungement under the law. If the court denies your petition, you may file an appeal.
Hiring a Qualified Attorney
If you’re not sure if your circumstances qualify for expungement, or if you need assistance with filing your petition, call us today at (520) 497-3304 or through our website. The attorneys at Ferguson Hill Law are knowledgeable, experienced, and happy to help! We offer free consultations so that you can best understand your options.
If you or a loved one has any qualifying marijuana arrest or convictions, you should contact Ferguson Hill Law as soon as possible. It is vital that you take advantage of this process to erase the marijuana arrest, charge, and conviction from your record.