TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — When Arizona voters passed Prop 207 they made it legal for adults to have an ounce or less of marijuana. They also set up a system to help people clear their criminal records if they were busted for a small amount of weed. Now, Pima County’s top prosecutor has started filing paperwork to clean up those criminal histories.
There was a time when having even a small amount of marijuana could land you at the Pima County Jail. Now, the Pima County Attorney has begun filing paperwork to help low level marijuana offenders, wipe their records clean.
Pima County attorney Laura Conover brought a stack of papers to the Pima Superior Court Clerk’s Office. They will ask judges to remove small time marijuana convictions that have cast shadows over lives, jobs and life’s opportunities. Conover says some of the first convictions she looked at date back to 2001---and it’s time to free them from criminal records---for minor offenses that have haunted them for years.
She says, “It’s something so positive, to work on, to see that name, to see their old case number, and to just present it to the court and say, this person has done what they needed to do. Let's clean their record.”
Conover is concerned that people who could benefit from having their cases wiped out have not even heard that it’s possible.
Her office has set up a web page to help people apply for what the law calls expungement. The information helps them root back through records that may go so far back they’re on paper instead of computer files easier to search quickly.
To qualify your case must not involve marijuana sales, only personal possession of not more than:
- 2.5 ounces of marijuana
- 12.5 grams or less of marijuana concentrate
- 6 marijuana plants
Conover says an attorney is not required but using an attorney is a good idea if you might be facing an arrest warrant for something.
The Pima County Attorney’s office can only help with a marijuana case that began in Pima County. If the case is from a different Arizona county they can only refer you there.
It can be a challenge to get the records you’ll need.
Deputy Pima County Attorney Jack Chin says, “And the bad news, to be honest, is that there are cases where the court doesn't have any information, and the Pima County Attorney's Office doesn't have any information, but the National Crime Information Center does have the information, and so the criminal record is out there, and we would like to help those people get it expunged, because it's going to require some research and some work to do that.”
Once a request is filed it’s up to a judge to decide to grant it. And with so many cases reaching back so many years it could take years to resolve them and break the chains a criminal conviction can leave on your life.
For more information on expunging a record for marijuana possession: Pima County Attorney Prop 207 website.