Governor Brown Signs Forward Thinking Marijuana Expungement Law

Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law California Assembly Bill 1793, a law that will provide for the automatic redesignation of certain marijuana convictions. This bill is a follow up to the voter passed Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use and changed how past convictions for marijuana possession and use are classified. This is an exciting change, however it will still be another 22 months before its full effects are felt. For those who do not want to wait to shake the stigma of a conviction for something that is no longer a crime, proactive filing of a petition for redesignation or expungement remains the best option.

When voters passed Proposition 64 in 2016, included in the new law was a means of reclassifying past marijuana convictions to conform to how the law now treats those same marijuana activities. In ensuring equal justice, people who were convicted for actions now legal, the state allowed for those people to file a petition for either resentencing or expungement, depending on the nature of their past marijuana conviction. The process required a proactive approach on the part of the applicant or their attorney, and not everyone knew about the available relief. Some local district attorneys took it upon themselves to review their files for eligible former offenders, however there was no coordinated statewide effort to review criminal database files.

AB 1793 changes that. AB 1793 adds to the Health and Safety Code section 11361.9. The law goes into effect on January 1st, 2019, and once in effect the California Department of Justice is required to review the state summary criminal history information database and identify convictions eligible for redesignation, resentencing, or expungement by July 1st, 2019. Upon identifying those eligible convictions, the DOJ is required to submit those cases to the local district attorney offices for review. The district attorney offices have until July 1st, 2020 to submit to the court and public defender office their objection to automatic resenticing, redesignation, or expungement. On July 1st, 2020, the courts are required to proceed with the automatic redesignation or expungement process. Throughout the process, the priority will be given to those currently serving a sentence, or those who proactively petition the court for relief.

Ultimately this is great public policy, but it will take a significant amount of time to be fully successful in its mission to update justie. The timeline allows the government to take over 19 months to complete this process, and the priority for processing will go to those currently serving a sentence or to those who proactively file for relief themselves. Additionally, the specific check points apply to the DOJ and local district attorney, there is no deadline for when the court must complete its part of the process. In the meantime, people will still suffer from the stigma of a conviction for something that is no longer a crime, or from serving a sentence that would no longer apply if their offense were committed today.

If you are someone who has a marijuana conviction, do not wait for the government to take care of it for you. Contact us today so we can help you proactively achieve relief from your conviction. Do not let opportunities pass you by as you wait for a bureaucracy to complete its task. Call us at 877-573-7273 or take a free online eligibility test today. Let us help you move forward to greater opportunity.

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