With the passage of Arizona Proposition 207 in November 2020 by state voters, the use and possession of marijuana have been decriminalized in the state. While previous laws had allowed for the use of medical marijuana, the new proposition means that marijuana is also legal for recreational purposes.
Prop 207 can affect your previous marijuana conviction
The new legislation not only made marijuana legal, but it also has opened up the opportunity for those convicted of marijuana crimes, that are no longer considered illegal, to have their records expunged. The expungement can apply to three primary types of convictions in the state, including:
- The possession, transportation, or consumption of marijuana: If you were convicted of being in possession, transporting, or consuming quantities of 2.5 ounces of marijuana or less, you have the right to petition for expungement.
- The possession, transportation, or cultivation of cannabis plants: Convictions for cultivating, transporting, or possessing, six marijuana plants or less at your residence for personal use can also be expunged.
- The possession, transportation, or use of marijuana paraphernalia: Any conviction for using, possessing, or transporting paraphernalia related to the processing, cultivating, or consumption of marijuana can be expunged.
What is expungement?
The expungement under Prop 207 is different from having a conviction set aside, which is traditionally how convictions are removed in the state of Arizona. When a conviction is set aside, it will still show up on a criminal background check with the notation that it has been set aside.
An expungement can essentially wipe the slate clean in terms of a criminal background. When your record is expunged, all records of your arrest and conviction will be sealed. The only ones who can access those records are you and your attorney. The conviction will no longer show up on public records.
Why should you consider having a conviction expunged?
If you have already served your sentence, paid your fines, or done your probation, you may be wondering why you should bother with having your record expunged? The truth is, a conviction can affect you in many ways aside from your sentence. If you have been charged with a felony marijuana conviction, an expungement can allow you to reinstate the civil rights that were limited by your conviction, such as voting, possessing a firearm, or obtaining certain licenses. Expungement of any level of marijuana conviction can also help you secure student loans and allow you to apply for better employment.
How to get your record expunged in Arizona
As of July 12, 2021, you can petition the court to have your conviction expunged instead of setting aside the conviction. After filing your petition, the prosecutor will be given a 30-day window to respond to the petition, at which time they can dispute it. If they choose to dispute the expungement, a hearing will be scheduled, and the prosecutor will have to provide convincing evidence as to why you would not be eligible to have your record expunged.
If the court granted the petition, you would receive an order saying your charges were expunged, and your civil rights will be formally restored. If there are any outstanding warrants, remaining probation requirements, or outstanding fines or fees, those will be canceled as well. If your petition is denied, you will have the right to appeal.
While the process may seem simple, having an experienced attorney file the petition on your behalf and represent you in a hearing if necessary will put you in the position for the best possible outcome. They will also be able to file any appeals on your behalf.