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Marijuana Expungements - FAQs

1. What is the story behind expunging old marijuana convictions?
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In 2016, the voters legalized some uses of cannabis (marijuana) and allowed for the regulated recreational sale of cannabis in some jurisdictions beginning in January 2018. Part of this de-criminalization allows for people who have old cannabis convictions to have their prior convictions expunged (cleared) by the courts.​​

2. Is anyone prosecuted by this District Attorney still incarcerated due to an old cannabis conviction that no longer is a crime?
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No. One of the first steps we took after Prop 64 passed was to make sure there was nobody incarcerated for something that isn’t a crime.​​​

3. How can someone get an old cannabis conviction cleared from their record?
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There are two ways to do this. If you need to get an old cannabis conviction expunged, you can contact your former attorney, the public defender, or this Office directly. We will then evaluate your case, and if it is eligible, we will set it for a hearing in order to get your record cleared as fast as possible. Hundreds of people have done this already. There is another even easier way to do this. Do nothing, and we will take care of it automatically. A new law was passed (AB 1793) and signed into law last year that tasks the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”) with providing to every District Attorney a list of all potentially eligible cases. We have contacted the DOJ, and we expect this list as early as this summer. Once we get the list we will find all the eligible cases, and then the court can expunge conviction automatically. There is no need for a lawyer or a court appearance. It will happen automatically, and at no cost. ​
4. Is everyone entitled to an expungement of an old cannabis conviction?
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While most people are entitled to an expungement, there are exceptions. For example, in many cases, if a child was used or endangered during the crime, the person is not entitled to expunge the record. In general, people who have committed the most serious crimes like rape and murder are not eligible. The law is complicated, so if you need further advice you might want to consult with an attorney.​

5. Why is the District Attorney waiting for a list of eligible cases from the Department of Justice instead of just starting right away?
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We have started. We have already helped expunge hundreds of cases. Our priority were people who were currently incarcerated. Our second priority were people who had an immediate need for an expungement and contacted our Office. Our current priority is all of those who were previously convicted, but are not in custody, and have not contacted our Office. But, we do not yet have a comprehensive list of these people. The Department of Justice does. We expect the list from the Department of Justice as early as this summer. We want to do this correctly, accurately and comprehensively the first time. ​

6. How quickly will the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office get these expungements done?
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We have a process in place, so we expect it to move quickly. We should have all the expungements done in less than a year.​​
Last updated: 5/3/2019 10:30 AM