California is well-known for its liberal marijuana laws. For years, medical marijuana has been legal in the state. More recently, the state’s voters opted to allow the use of marijuana for recreational purposes as well. Yet despite these laws, hundreds of thousands of Californians have convictions for marijuana possession on their records — which may prevent them from getting jobs, qualifying for professional licenses, and more.
According to a study from the Drug Policy Alliance, nearly 500,000 Californians were arrested on marijuana charges between 2006 and 2015. These numbers show that there are a substantial number of California residents who have been affected by California’s prior drug laws — and who may now be getting relief.
Under a new law recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown, eligible marijuana convictions will automatically be expunged from individuals’ criminal records. Qualifying felony marijuana convictions will be reduced to misdemeanors. This law will be a tremendous benefit to any Californian with a criminal record related to marijuana.
At the Parsanj Law Group, we work hard to protect our clients’ rights and freedoms. From the initial arrest through the close of criminal case, we will stand by your side and advocate for your best interests. The change to California’s marijuana laws is incredibly positive for all residents, including those who have a conviction on their records. Learn more about it from an experienced Glendale criminal defense attorney below. To schedule a consultation, contact us by phone at 818-698-6680 or by email anytime.
The Basis for Automatic Expungement
In 2016, Proposition 64 made the use of weed for recreational purposes legal in California. This measure also made it possible to have a criminal record for marijuana possession expunged or a conviction reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. This represented significant progress in California’s move towards criminal justice reform.
Under Prop 64, misdemeanor marijuana convictions may be eligible for expungement. This is a legal process that clears a conviction from a person’s record, as though it never happened. Certain felony marijuana convictions could be eligible for a reduction to a misdemeanor crime. There are numerous benefits to reducing a charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, including restoring California gun rights, being able to state that you have never been convicted of a felony, and eligibility for certain professional licenses.
Yet the process to have a marijuana possession conviction expunged or reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor could be time-consuming and costly. According to a Glendale criminal defense attorney, expunging your record or seeking a reduction of your charges required a substantial amount of paperwork. It also required you to appear in court. This complicated process may be overwhelming for the average person, requiring the retention of a lawyer to help them through the bureaucracy.
Given this reality, Assemblyman Rob Bonta introduced Assembly Bill 1793, which would require courts to expunge or reduce all qualified criminal convictions under Prop 64. Instead of having to petition the court, paying attorney’s fees, or appear in court, the process would be automatic. In August, the California Legislature passed the bill. Governor Brown signed it into law on October 1, 2018.
Which Marijuana Convictions Are Eligible for Review?
Under AB 1793, the California Department of Justice is required to review the records of marijuana convictions that are eligible for “recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal, and sealing, or re-designation” (expungement) under California’s current marijuana laws.
Eligible convictions include:
- Possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana;
- Possession of 4 grams or less of concentrated cannabis;
- Cultivation of 6 marijuana plants or fewer; or
- Possession with intent to sell less than 1 ounce of marijuana.
The Justice Department will have until July 1, 2019 to complete its review of eligible cases for expungement or reduction. From there, prosecutors will have one year to determine if they will challenge any cases. If there is no challenge by the prosecutor’s office, then the court can modify the record of conviction. More than 220,000 convictions may qualify for expungement or a reduction under this new law. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2019.
Work with a Glendale Criminal Defense Attorney
Having a criminal conviction on your record can make it difficult to achieve your goals in life. While California has loosened its marijuana laws, there are still severe penalties for the possession, sale, manufacture, and distribution of other types of drugs in the state. Having a skilled Glendale criminal defense attorney can make all the difference if you are charged with a drug-related crime.
The Parsanj Law Group is skilled at assisting clients with a range of California criminal law charges. We thoroughly investigate the facts of each case to develop the best possible defense to the charges against our clients. From there, we work to have the charges dismissed or reduced, or to achieve a favorable result through a deal or at trial. To schedule a consultation or learn more, contact us by phone at 818-273-1360 or by email.