Marijuana Charge Expungement Begins in Arizona
In November 2020, Arizona voters passed Prop 207, which legalized recreational marijuana use for adult users. Another benefit to this new legislation? Those people who were convicted of certain marijuana possession or marijuana paraphernalia felonies can apply to have their convictions expunged beginning on July 12, 2021.
Here’s a quick run-down on what Arizona’s law had prohibited prior to the passage of this voter initiative. A.R.S. § 13-3405 made it illegal to knowingly
1. Possessor or use marijuana.
2. Possess marijuana for sale.
3. Produce marijuana.
4. Transport for sale, import into this state or offer to transport for sale or import into this state, sell, transfer or offer to sell or transfer marijuana.
The severity of the charges were directly related to the amount that was possessed. For example, any possession not for sale less than two pounds was a Class 6 Felony; having 2-4 lbs. not for sale was a Class 5 felony, and 4 pounds or more not for sale was a Class 4 Felony. If the marijuana had been for sale, however, two pounds would start out at a Class 3 Felony and have much harsher penalties. Take note, though, that having even a small joint would have been considered a felony, and these types of charges and convictions are exactly what Prop 207 aimed to address.
So who qualifies for expungement of prior marijuana convictions? You do not qualify if you had more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana (leaf/bud). What if you had edibles or a THC vape pen, which had been considered possession of a narcotic drug (yeah, Arizona is weird, we agree), a Class 4 Felony? As long as you did not have more than 12.5 grams of THC concentrate, you can also qualify. Additionally, if your conviction was for drug paraphernalia, and it was related to marijuana use only, you can also apply.
Here’s some additional fine print on whether you can get a marijuana conviction expunged by petitioning the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office directly. You cannot have been convicted of any felony offenses AFTER your marijuana offense except if you had another qualifying marijuana conviction. In other words, if you had a marijuana felony conviction in 2010 and then had an Aggravated DUI conviction in 2016, you cannot request an expungement through the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. But, if you had a marijuana conviction in 2010 and got another marijuana conviction in 2016, you can apply for expungement on both (as long as you were within the weight limits mentioned above). You also cannot have any pending felony charges. If this is you, you can fill out a form online here with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to request that they file a petition with the Maricopa County Superior Court on your behalf.
What if you had a non-marijuana felony conviction after your marijuana conviction? What if you were arrested and are waiting to see if the prosecutor’s office files any felony charges, especially since they have 7 years or more to do that? What if you’re just not sure if you qualify? There’s nothing in the expungement statute that specifically says you won’t qualify, but it would be a good idea to call an Arizona criminal defense attorney like Mark or Jayme to get some advice.
We here at the Law Office of Mark D. DuBiel are excited to see Arizona moving forward in helping people who have been held back by these types of convictions for so many years to have a chance at a fresh start. We’re here to help, and we’re always here to help you know your rights!