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Thousands Apply For Expungement of Arizona Pot Arrests

Despite the surge of expungement applications in Arizona, most eligible (up to 500,000 of them!) haven’t done so yet

My Modern Law

Thousands of Arizonans convicted of minor Cannabis-related offenses have had their records wiped clean. Hundreds more are applying for expungement each week, reports the Arizona Republic. But the bulk of those eligible to apply haven’t done so yet.

Maricopa County has granted more than 3,600 petitions for expungement of marijuana convictions since they became available in Maricopa County on July 12. That averages out to 506 petitions filed each week, according to Maricopa County Superior Court.  

Proposition 207, passed by voters 10 months ago, legalized the use and possession of Cannabis for adults over the age of 21 in Arizona. The ballot measure also allowed for the cultivation of marijuana and for storefront dispensaries to sell it to adults.

Quick and Free, But Thousands Haven’t Yet Applied

Anyone in Arizona accused or convicted of the activities since made legal by the proposition is now eligible for expungement. That, happily enough, means that charge or conviction is going to disappear from the records.

There’s no obvious downside. The expungement process costs nothing, and courts can grant a petition as quickly as 30 days later. 

But hundreds of thousands of those eligible to remove marijuana-related infractions still haven’t filed an expungement petition.

500,000 Arizona Cases May Be Eligible

Sure, there’s been a surge in applications. But when you realize just how many folks are eliigiblew for expungement, it doesn’t look like so many. We’ve barely scratched the surface, according to Julie Gunnigle, director of politics and civic engagement with Arizona NORML.

There are 250,000 to 500,000 cases that may be eligible for expungement, according to Gunnigle. And more than two-thirds of those are for Cannabis possession alone, according to crime reports from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand what an expungement means because it hasn’t existed before in any appreciable way in Arizona law,” Gunnigle said.

Here’s What Happens If A Court Grants Expungement

The prosecutor’s office seals records related to expunged cases.

The prosecutors vacate both the conviction and the sentence, and the office drops any outstanding fees owed due to the charge.

Prosecutors can’t used an expunged charge in any subsequent prosecutions.

Start The Expungement Process Here

Exclusions to the proposition and common questions about the expungement process are at https://www.azcourts.gov/prop207/FAQ#Q13.

Instructions and expungement forms are available at azcourts.gov/prop207. After the forms are completed, a prosecuting agency has 30days to grant the expungement.

Applicants must fill out the correct form for the appropriate court on their cases. Note that there are separate petitions for each.

The form also requires a case number:
apps.supremecourt.az.gov/publicaccess/caselookup.aspx