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Busted for marijuana? You can clear your record in Arizona

Prop 207 has a way to remove low-level convictions
Hashish not included in medical marijuana law
Posted at 3:47 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 18:20:08-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The same public vote that made it legal for adults to have a small amount of marijuana, set up a system to delete a criminal record for possessing a small amount of marjuana -- but the exact process is still a work in progress.

Clearing records has not started yet, but if you want that to happen, it’s time to prepare.

When Arizona voters approved Proposition 207, they made it legal for adults to have and use up to one ounce of marijuana. The Prop also offered a way to scrub your record clean if you were busted for small amounts of weed.

If you were convicted for having 2.5 ounces or less, the law lets you file a formal request for a judge to clear your record. The formal word for that is expunging your record.

Attorney Ryan Huffman of the Nesci & St. Louis law firm says, “An expungement is when it's permanently off your record that nobody can look it up, nobody knows that you've been convicted of that crime.”

Once a request is filed, prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to challenge it.

Huffman says before Prop 207, the best you could do was a process called a "set-aside" that cleared your record but still made it possible to find the history of that old conviction. Even if a judge removed your minor marijuana conviction, someone like a prospective employer could still find out you had been in trouble and decide that’s a deal-breaker.

The court system will not start considering expungements until July 12 and the courts are still figuring out exactly how the process will work, but Huffman says now’s the time to prepare.

“You need to have any information from your case," he said. "If you're going to speak to an attorney about getting an expungement, make sure you have any documents you got from court, outlining what you were actually convicted of. Police reports will be helpful as well, because a lot of times the marijuana amount is in those documents.”

The Arizona Supreme Court website includes instructions on how to request an expungement and a draft of an expungement form but precise procedures are still being developed.

And while the law says you don’t have to use an attorney to request an expungement Huffman says it may help to have one, especially in the early days as the courts work out their procedures for clearing your record.