In November 2016 the voters of California passed Proposition 64 (officially the “Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” also commonly known as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,”) decriminalizing certain marijuana-related activities, and lessening the severity of the consequences for convictions of others. While this is generally considered good news for those who plan on using marijuana casually or for medicinal purposes in the future, it can be GREAT news for those with a marijuana-related conviction already on their record. Defendants in this latter category can now petition the court to have those convictions retroactively reduced to misdemeanors, or, in some cases, dismissed entirely.
Recognizing that marijuana can have medicinal benefits, Prop 64 was passed in large part to allow those over 21 to (1) possess, process, transport, purchase, obtain or give away up to 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, (2) possess, plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, or process not more than 6 living marijuana plants and products produced by the plants at either their private residence or grounds, in a locked place, and not open to public view, (3) smoke or ingest marijuana and marijuana products, and (4) possess, transport, purchase, obtain, use, manufacture or give away without compensation to persons 21 years or older, any marijuana accessories.
In light of this, criminal defendants who were previously convicted of felony violations of Health and Safety Code sections 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, simple possession of marijuana, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and sales/transportation of marijuana, respectively, can now petition to have many of those convictions reduced to misdemeanors. Further, previously-misdemeanor violations of those offenses can often be dismissed from a person's record. Anyone who feels they may be eligible to take advantage of these changes in the law should contact a qualified attorney soon as these changes to a defendant's record are not automatic; the defendant, usually through his or her lawyer, must ask the court to make the change.
Of course, as with most changes in the law, certain classes of defendants may not eligible for relief. Those to whom relief may not be available include (1) those with a prior “super strike” on their record, (2) those required to register as a sex offender under Penal Code section 290, or (3) those the court feels pose “an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.” Further, as federal law affects the State's ability to grant these reductions/dismissals, such actions are unavailable if the crime involved a minor as a participant, target or victim, or it involved interstate transportation or importation.
That said, relief is available to anyone currently in custody, on probation/parole, or who has completed their sentence. If you would like to speak to an attorney who has experience in filing these petitions and arguing close cases, give Devina Douglas a call at (707) 408-3529.
 The type of factors which are considered in assessing a person’s danger to public safety include: “The petitioner’s criminal conviction history, including the type of crimes committed, the extent of injury to victims, the length of prior prison commitments, and the remoteness of the crimes; (2) The petitioner’s disciplinary record and record of rehabilitation while incarcerated; (3) Any other evidence the court, within its discretion, determines to be relevant to deciding whether a new sentence would result in an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.” Penal Code section 1170.18(b).
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