Marijuana Expungement: Legal Information and Assistance Available

By: Ashley Ellithorp-Segner and Alio Naallah, Legal Interns

 

Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc. will be co-hosting a FREE Marijuana Expungement and Civil Rights Restoration Clinic on Saturday, September 25th from 9am-1pm.  For more information, click here: Expungement Clinic Sept. 25, 2021

 

Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc. has also compiled the following relevant statistics and important background information for individuals looking to know more about the history of “Prop 207”.

 

Who: Recent statistics show that 1 in 4 American adults have a criminal record, be it via misdemeanor or felony charges1. With approximately 7 million people in the United States passing through probation, jails, and the prison system each year as of 2020, the United States has been dubbed the “incarceration nation” of the world2.

What: “Prop 207”, also known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, was a voter initiative that passed in the Arizona general election ballot with approximately 60% of the vote3. Under this Act, the process of legalizing, taxing, and regulating the production, sale, possession, and consumption of recreational marijuana is allowed for adults over the age of 21. As of November 30, 2020, it is now legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess 6 marijuana plants or less, or have a household limit of 12 plants or less for a residence with two or more adults over the age of 21, or 2.5 oz or less—1oz of which can be concentrate– of marijuana.

Consequences of Criminal Records: There are two primary forms of consequences associated with a criminal record: Direct Consequences and Collateral Consequences. Direct Consequences are the court-ordered consequences such as jail/prison sentence; probation; fines/fees; and restitution. Collateral Consequences are what happens after someone has “paid their debt to society” via direct consequences. These consequences include the loss of civil rights under A.R.S. § 13-904(A) (i.e., voting, ability to hold public office, serving on a jury, and the right to bear arms); immigration complications; housing evictions; limited job opportunities or licensing abilities; etc.

 

Restoration of Civil Rights: 

There are two main methods for restoring your civil rights after a felony conviction: A “Set Aside” and Expungement. A “Set Aside” is NOT sealing the record and still counts as a prior conviction, and there are established legal pre-requisites–including your offense not being a “serious offense”–before your conviction can be “Set Aside”. Expungement is the sealing of a criminal conviction from state records.

The 2020 “Prop 207” initiative also included a new statute (A.R.S. § 36-2862) which allowed for individuals to petition for the expungement of certain marijuana-related crimes including:

  1. Possession, consumption, or transport of 2.5 oz or less of marijuana.
  2. Possession, consumption, transportation, or cultivation of 6 or fewer marijuana plants.
  3. The possession, use, or transport of marijuana-specific paraphernalia.

What Does This Mean?

Marijuana-related offenses that are covered by the above limits are no longer public records upon the granting of an expungement. Under this statute, the burden of proof lies on the State meaning that the prosecution must prove that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that someone is ineligible for their record to be expunged. This is extremely hard for the State to prove.

Upon expungement, individuals’ civil rights (i.e., voting, ability to hold public office, serving on a jury, and the right to bear arms) are eligible to be restored.

 

To apply with SALA for services for Prop 207 Expungement*, call 520-623-9465 Ext 4199.

*Please note that SALA is currently only providing expungements of marijuana records. Civil rights restorations and set-asides are not currently offered at this time.

Additional resources are also available at pima.gov/KnowYourRights

Resources:

1Prison Fellowship: https://www.prisonfellowship.org/about/justicereform/second-chance-month/

2Prison Policy Initiative – Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2020.html

3Arizona Judicial Branch: https://www.azcourts.gov/prop207

 

 

For questions or comments about this blog, please contact us at Connections@sazlegalaid.org