Thousands of people convicted of marijuana crimes in California have asked to get their records reduced since the state legalized recreational pot. Peddling pot, or in some cases, just the possession over a threshold amount, can be a felony that will mess up your life forever and keep you from getting a job.
The passage of Proposition 64 last year allows for those who are 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of weed, as well as grow up to six plants for personal use. In other words, it made pot “legal” to remove the stigma of a criminal conviction. A lesser-known provision of the law also allows those convicted of marijuana charges to wipe their rap sheets clean and offers hope for people with past convictions who are seeking work or loans. The provision allows for those convicted of marijuana crimes to reduce their felonies to small infractions. However, prosecutors have the discretion to not support a reduction should someone have a major felony, such as murder, on their record.
While it is hard to say how many people have benefitted, it is estimated that over 2,500 requests were filed to reduce convictions or sentences, according to partial state figures. San Diego County specifically, has led the charge with the most number of petitions reported and the reduced sentences or convictions in 400 cases.
Reducing Your Felony Conviction
Some defendants in California have always had the option to reduce their convicted felonies to misdemeanors. In the case of Prop. 64, those convicted of marijuana crimes can have their felonies reduced to infringements.
Under California Penal Code § 17(b), felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors if:
- You are convicted to wobbler crimes such as felonies; and
- Are sentenced to and completed felony probation for the offense.
A judge can take into consideration a multitude of factors when deciding whether to reduce a crime, such as the nature of the offense, the circumstances/facts, your compliance with your probation terms, your criminal history, and your personal history.
Reductions are different from expungements. Expungements close your records and seal them and makes it so you were never convicted. You are not eligible for expungements if you are currently charged with a criminal offense. Continue reading