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Briefly, Proposition 64 provides that certain marijuana-related activities are no longer crimes–or are less serious crimes than they were before that law was passed. If you were sentenced under the old law, you can have your sentence reduced, or your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. Or, if your offense is no longer a crime at all, you can have the conviction dismissed.
Eligibility for Prop 64 relief vs. PC 1203.4 expungement
For a defendant with a marijuana conviction trying to decide which form of expungement to pursue, the first question is of course which you are eligible for.
In order to have a marijuana conviction totally expunged under Prop 64 (as opposed to merely reduced/redesignated from a felony to a misdemeanor), you need to have been convicted of an offense that is no longer a crime under marijuana legalization. The major offenses of which this is true are:
In contrast, Proposition 64, in new Health and Safety Code 11361.8 HS, provides that a marijuana conviction dismissed under that section will be “sealed” as legally invalid. This means that the arrest and conviction will not come up when someone does a background check and will not be discoverable through other means.
For this reason, many defendants who are eligible for a dismissal of their sentence under Proposition 64 are likely to find that to be a preferable option to expungement under PC 1203.4.
That said, it is best to speak directly with a criminal defense and expungement attorney who can help you evaluate your individual situation and options.
About the Author
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.