Proposition 207 was approved by the voters in Arizona effectively decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Part of Proposition 207 provides that people who have previously been convicted of certain marijuana offenses in Arizona can have their convictions expunged.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
You are eligible to have your Arizona conviction expunged if your prior conviction involved one of the following:
- Possessing, consuming, or transporting no more than two and one-half ounces of marijuana of which no more than twelve and one-half grams was marijuana concentrate.
- Possessing, transporting, cultivating, or processing not more than six marijuana plants at your primary residence for personal use.
- Possessing, using, or transporting paraphernalia related to the cultivation, manufacture, processing or consumption of marijuana.
When Can I Apply?
The courts will start accepting Petitions for Expungement starting July 12, 2021. I strongly suspect the courts will devise a form and process to make it easy for people to fill out and file a petition without requiring the assistance of an attorney. This form will also make it easier for the courts to process what is likely to be a large number of petitions in an efficient manner.
What Will Expungement Do?
Once the court grants the Petition for Expungement, the following will happen:
- Vacate the adult conviction or juvenile adjudications.
- Expunge the arrest, charge, conviction, adjudication, and sentence.
- Restore all civil rights lost as a result of the conviction including firearms rights.
- Seal all records relating to the expunged arrest, charge, adjudication conviction or sentence. These sealed records will only be accessible to you or your lawyer.
- Prohibit a prosecutor from using the expunged conviction against you in a future proceeding if you were later charged with a crime.
- You may lawfully deny the expunged arrest, charge, conviction, adjudication, or sentence ever occurred. (eg. On a job application.)
Will I Need an Attorney?
Probably not. I expect the courts will develop a form to allow people to easily petition the court for an expungement. The prosecutor’s office will be provided a copy of the petition and will have 30 days to challenge it. If your petition is challenged, you will probably want to consult with an attorney. The prosecutor will be required to prove you are not eligible for an expungement by clear and convincing evidence. You will want an experienced lawyer by your side if you have to face a prosecutor in court.
What if I am Charged with a Marijuana Crime Right Now
If you are charged with one of the marijuana offenses eligible for expungement listed above, you should expect the prosecuting agency will file a Motion to Dismiss and dismissal should be granted with prejudice. Prosecuting agencies across the state are currently determining which cases are eligible for dismissal and some are already filing Motions to Dismiss. If you think your charge is eligible for dismissal you or your attorney may also file a Motion to Dismiss with the court. Once your charge is dismissed, you should file a Petition for Expungement starting July 12, 2021 to remove the entire criminal charge from your record.
Marijuana and DUIs
While we are on the subject of recreational marijuana, it is important to remember legally consuming marijuana and driving can lead to DUI charges. Just like alcohol, marijuana does impair your ability to drive. If you are going to smoke, make sure you smoke responsibly and use a designated driver or a ride share service.
Russ Richelsoph is consistently ranked as having among the top criminal defense practices in Arizona by Ranking Arizona. You can reach him at (480) 344-0933.