California Moves to Automate Process of Clearing Cannabis Convictions
Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative approved by California voters in 2016, legalized the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use. The law also permitted residents with prior convictions based on cannabis possession and sale to petition the courts to clear their records. The expungement process, however, is time-consuming and burdensome. It is certainly worth the trouble, but the hurdles can be daunting and confusing, and many people struggle to get the time away from work or to pay the necessary legal fees. Thankfully, California passed Assembly Bill 1793, which put the onus on the state Department of Justice to identify and expunge eligible convictions, but even with that the process has been moving slowly. Several locales in California have begun implementing procedures to allow the counties to quickly identify eligible convictions and automatically expunge them. Read on for details about the new automated expungement initiatives, and contact a dedicated Ventura criminal defense attorney with any questions about how to deal with an arrest, criminal charge or record of conviction.
San Francisco First to Engage in Automatic Expungement
In February, San Francisco became the first city and county to automatically expunge marijuana convictions. San Francisco utilized a computer program to help the city identify more than 8,100 cannabis convictions dating back to 1975 to be automatically cleared under the new marijuana laws. The office had previously expunged the records of 1,230 residents through manual applications. The total number of sealed convictions is now over 9,600 following the automatic expungement process.
Los Angeles and San Joaquin Counties Announce Plans for Automated Expungement
Officials from Los Angeles County and San Joaquin County just announced their plans to join the automated expungement movement. The counties are partnering with Code for America, a non-profit tech organization, to automate the clearance of over 50,000 cannabis convictions. The partnership involves the use of technology to identify eligible convictions and have either felonies reduced to misdemeanors or remove marijuana convictions altogether, according to the terms of the new law. The counties had been working with Code for America since July 2018 to expedite the expungement process but only just recently officially announced their partnership. Code for America also stated that it is already planning uses for its technology beyond marijuana convictions, including the implementation of Proposition 47 which reduced some non-violent felonies to misdemeanors.