How to Get Your Marijuana Conviction Overturned in California
In California, Proposition 64 legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Across the state, businesses are opening to sell marijuana, or adding marijuana to the list of items that they carry. California is the largest state to legalize marijuana. If you’ve been convicted of a marijuana-related offense in California, the law could pave the way to having that conviction overturned.
The law has changed the severity of marijuana-related offenses across the state. Previously, possessing a certain quantity of marijuana would result in a felony charge. Growing over six cannabis plants would also result in a felony charge. Both of these offenses are now misdemeanors.
If the crime you were convicted for is no longer defined as a crime under Proposition 64’s guidelines, you may be able to have the conviction erased from your record. The responsibility lies with the convicted individual rather than the state.
These are the steps you need to follow in order to have your conviction expunged or reduced to a smaller crime:
1. Find out which jurisdiction you live in.
California is separated into different jurisdictions, and each jurisdiction operates with its own court. Though the law is the same across the entire state, as are the potential ways of having your conviction reduced, you’ll need to go through your district court rather than a state court. So your first step is to know where you live and where your district court is.
2. File a petition to have the conviction overturned.
Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be able to file a petition without needing to take any time off work or spend any time in court. You may not even need to hire an attorney, although an attorney is a good idea when filing any kind of legal paperwork.
More than 5,000 Californians have already filed petitions to have their legal records wiped of cannabis convictions. Of those, thousands of petitions have been granted.
Who Can Have Their Conviction Overturned?
There isn’t any statute of limitations on the new laws or on Prop 64’s language. This means that any marijuana conviction, provided the conviction occurred in the state of California, is eligible for review. You can have convictions from 40 or 50 years ago expunged from your record.
It should be noted that you aren’t guaranteed to have your record expunged. You may instead have your conviction downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor. Felonies will be reclassified as misdemeanors; misdemeanors will be expunged from the record entirely.
The question of your conviction’s severity has a lot to do with Prop 64’s legal language. Convictions will be changed to line up with the bill’s new guidelines regarding marijuana possession and the sale of marijuana.
Will This Affect People Currently in Jail?
In San Diego and San Francisco, hundreds of individuals have been released early from prison after having their marijuana convictions expunged or reduced. Changing the severity of the crime also changes the sentence. If you haven’t finished serving your sentence for a marijuana-related crime, you may be eligible for early release.
Early release is determined on a case-by-case basis. For now, most of the prisoners released have been nonviolent offenders who only had marijuana charges. If you have other drug charges or violent offenses, you may still need to serve the remainder of your sentence. That said, you might be eligible to have your sentence shortened or otherwise reduced.
If you’re in prison for a marijuana-related conviction, and you haven’t heard anything about your potential release, you should get in contact with an attorney as soon as possible. There is precedent across the state for early release.