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Can a Marijuana Conviction Be Expunged in Arizona?



Can a Marijuana Conviction Be Expunged in Arizona?

There was a time when crimes related to marijuana carried stiff penalties in the state of Arizona, but that has changed. Marijuana expungement is now looming as a possibility for many individuals who were incarcerated due to drug-related offenses.

It’s important to know about the changes that have been made to Arizona’s marijuana laws and if they could apply to your case or a loved one’s situation. There may be a chance that you are granted a fresh start thanks to the state’s new marijuana laws.

Expunging a previous conviction can be beneficial to you in so many ways. Find out if you’re eligible and how to proceed by continuing with the rest of this article.

The Changes Caused by Proposition 207

During the most recent general election, most Arizona residents voted “yes” on Proposition 207, which is also known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. The passage of Proposition 207 is a big deal because of how it affects the state’s marijuana laws.

The biggest change enacted by Proposition 207 is legalizing the adult use of marijuana in Arizona. Per the new laws, adults over the age of twenty-one are now legally permitted to possess, use, and even transfer up to one ounce of marijuana.

Even growing your own marijuana plants is now legal, although there are still limitations placed on that activity.

Given how many actions that were considered criminal have now been legalized, the state is moving to rectify their records as well. That can happen through marijuana expungement.

Qualifications for Marijuana Expungement in Arizona

The state of Arizona has already moved forward with plans to expunge the records of individuals who have marijuana-related crimes on their records. However, Arizona residents should know that not all marijuana-related crimes will be expunged. Even Proposition 207 sets limits on how much marijuana an adult can carry at any given time.

So, what are the previous marijuana crimes that can be expunged from the records thanks to Proposition 207? Let’s discuss them in the following section.

Possessing, Using, and/or Transporting Marijuana

Violations related to possessing, using, and transporting marijuana may soon be expunged from Arizona’s criminal records. Some conditions must be met first, however.

First off, the amount of marijuana that was found in a person’s possession either for use or transport must be no greater than two and a half ounces. The marijuana in a person’s possession should also contain no more than 12.5 grams of marijuana concentrate.

Marijuana expungement may not be an option for offenders who were carrying around more than those amounts.

Possessing, Transporting, Growing, or Processing Marijuana Plants

Growing your own marijuana plants is now legal in Arizona. Thanks to the passage of Proposition 207, adults over the age of twenty-one can now grow their own marijuana plants at home.

Adults can cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their home if they are kept in an enclosed space secured by a device that prevents minors from getting to them. If you share a home with another adult, the two of you can grow up to twelve marijuana plants, but no more than that.

The marijuana plants being cultivated should also be for personal use only.

If you were found guilty of growing marijuana plants in the past, you could get your conviction expunged as well The conviction can be expunged if you were cultivating no more than six plants. You must also prove that you were growing the plants for personal use only if you want the conviction expunged.

Expungement is also possible for individuals who were transporting or processing marijuana plants.

Possessing, Using, or Transporting Paraphernalia for Growing, Processing, or Consuming Marijuana

Charges may have been filed against you after marijuana paraphernalia were found in your possession. That charge may have stuck with you for a long time, but you can now have it expunged from your record.

Marijuana Crimes Not Eligible for Expungement

Not all marijuana-related violations can be lifted from the records via expungement. We already discussed some of the limitations on expungement above.

In addition to them, marijuana-related actions that are considered crimes after the passage of Proposition 207 will also not be eligible for expungement.

For example, if you were caught driving under the influence of marijuana in the past, that conviction will stay on your record. Also, note that using marijuana inside your vehicle even if you are not driving is prohibited by the law.

Smoking marijuana in public is also not allowed. You cannot use marijuana in any public space such as a restaurant or shopping mall. Using marijuana in any open space also remains illegal.

Selling marijuana, you grow is also not allowed in many instances. Individuals can only sell the marijuana they cultivate if they have been licensed to operate as either a medical marijuana dispensary or as a marijuana establishment.

Unfortunately, if you committed any of the crimes mentioned in this section, your record will still show that violation in the future. Marijuana expungement will not be an option for you.

The Process of Marijuana Expungement

After determining that you or someone you know qualifies for marijuana expungement, you can start working on getting those blemishes removed from Arizona’s records.

Right now, the only thing you can do is wait. Although the new laws in Proposition 207 took effect a while ago, expunging records related to marijuana offenses is not an option at the moment. The state has already determined that the process of expunging crimes related to marijuana will begin on July 12, 2021.

While waiting for that day, you can take this opportunity to learn how the process will work.

Filing a Petition

The process starts with filing a petition.

If you are planning to file a petition, now is a good time to look for an attorney. It’s important to partner up with an attorney who is knowledgeable when it comes to Arizona’s marijuana laws. They can verify if you do qualify for expungement.

A qualified and highly skilled attorney can also help you draw up your petition. Their assistance can also prove vital later in the process.

Waiting for a Response

After filing the petition to the court, they will notify the prosecution agency of your filing. At this point, you  will need to wait for the prosecutors to respond. The court will give the prosecutors’ 30 days to respond to your petition.

The Court May Set a Hearing

Your expungement process may go in a few different directions from here.

Upon examining your records, the court may decide that there are matters that need to be clarified before deciding. In that case, they will likely invite you to attend a hearing.

Arranging a hearing is also an option for both you and the prosecutor. You can make your case in court for why your record should be expunged while the prosecutor can argue against it.

The Court Grants Your Petition

There’s a chance that a hearing is not set up in your case. The court may decide that you are eligible for expungement and grant your petition right then and there. That can happen if the prosecutor also does not contest your petition being granted.

The Court Does Not Grant Your Petition

There is also a chance that the court will not grant your petition. The prosecutor may present evidence in your case indicating that you should not be eligible for expungement and the court may accept it.

The Court Issues a Signed Order

The court will eventually issue a signed order indicating whether your petition was granted. This order will also feature the findings in your case.

File an Appeal

It’s certainly possible that the court will not rule in your favor, but don’t lose hope yet. You can still file an appeal at this point and hope to get your record expunged.

Some may opt not to hire an attorney during the original expungement process, but it’s necessary if you’re filing an appeal. The appeal may be your last shot to be cleared so you must get it right.

The Benefits of Marijuana Expungement

You may be wondering if going through the expungement process is worth it. If you’ve already served your sentence and you’re free, you may see it as a bothersome process that’s not worth your time.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide whether expungement is worth the effort, but there are real benefits you can gain from it. Let’s talk more about what those benefits are below.

Your Record Is Wiped Clean

A lot of people confuse expungements with pardons, but they are not the same thing. Expunging a conviction means that your crime will no longer be on record. The conviction will be vacated, and you will be given a chance to effectively start over.

Many individuals who get out of jail or prison don’t have that opportunity. Their convictions will always stay with them and that can be a problem if they are looking for a job, an apartment, or trying to secure a loan.

Post-expungement, your record will be clean, and you can enjoy the benefits that come with that.

Your Old Record Will Only Be Made Accessible to You

Some folks who run background checks are persistent. You may be worried that someone would learn something about your past conviction if they dug around long enough.

That will not happen if you get your conviction expunged.

All the records about your previous conviction will be sealed by the clerk of the court. Records detailing expunged convictions are only accessible to the person who had it cleared in the first place.

In essence, expunging your record gives you a chance to put your past behind you.

Your Civil Rights Will Be Restored

Being convicted of a crime can lead to your civil rights being taken away. You cannot enjoy the same type of freedom that others do. To restore your civil rights, you need to go through the process of expungement.

Notably, though, expungement won’t restore your civil rights if you had other convictions that cannot be cleared.

The Limitations of Expungement

Once your records are expunged, your records will be completely cleared. The crimes you were charged with will no longer be on record in Arizona or any other part of the country.

From a legal standpoint, you are completely cleared, but that doesn’t mean that your conviction has been completely forgotten.

As we all know, some records are harder to erase. Reports about your arrest that made it online may stay there. Expunging your record does not automatically clean everything.

Furthermore, the courts cannot control everything. They cannot order entities not involved in the legal process to take down articles or posts about your conviction simply through the process of expungement.

What you can do as someone who wants their name cleared is to file additional motions with the court to have those articles or posts taken down. Those motions are not always successful though and even then, there is nothing stopping someone from posting about your cleared conviction in the future.

Expungement is still well worth your time and effort given how it benefits your daily life and legal standing, but it won’t magically undo everything.

How an Attorney Can Help

Many of the steps you need to undertake if you want your records cleared can be complicated, and difficult to navigate if you are not familiar with the legal process.

Partnering with an attorney is an absolute must if you want the process to go smoothly. Certain elements in your case may also prompt prosecutors to object to your record being expunged. That’s another instance where having a good attorney on your side will prove incredibly helpful.

Now that Arizona is relaxing its laws about marijuana, the time is also right for you to have your record cleared. Contact us today at the Schill Law Group and allow us to help with your marijuana expungement efforts.

Can You Smoke Marijuana in Public in Arizona?

Can You Smoke Marijuana in Public in Arizona?



Can You Smoke Marijuana in Public in Arizona?

More and more states throughout the country are changing their policies regarding marijuana. Arizona is among those states and you may be wondering if recent changes to laws have made smoking marijuana in public acceptable.


That’s a good question to ask and answering it is the focus of this article. Along with determining the legality of using marijuana in public, we’ll also touch on other relevant matters.

The laws involving marijuana usage in Arizona have changed significantly. You must stay up-to-date on them to avoid running into trouble with the law. Continue reading to see which changes have been made and how they could potentially impact you.

How Proposition 207 Affects Arizona’s Marijuana’s Laws

The big changes that have been made to Arizona’s marijuana laws come courtesy of the recently passed Proposition 207. Many The voters in the 2020 election chose “yes” on Proposition 207, which is otherwise known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.

Arguably the biggest changes included in Proposition 207 were the ones related to the usage and possession of marijuana. Thanks to the new laws that have been enacted, it is now legal for adults over the age of twenty-one to use or possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

Notably, the relaxed laws mean that adults of the appropriate age no longer need a medical exception to use marijuana legally. Still, there are some restrictions in place regarding marijuana usage for adults.

Smoking Marijuana in Public

While Proposition 207 has relaxed many of the laws related to using marijuana recreationally, there are still limitations you need to know about. Among the limitations you must be familiar with are the ones that dictate where you can smoke marijuana.

Smoking marijuana in the comfort of your own home is not going to be an issue. Proposition 207 has made that act legal.

However, you cannot use marijuana if you are in public.

The laws specifically state that using marijuana in a public or open space is not allowed. It doesn’t matter if you’re of the legal age and you’re following amount restrictions, you can still be found in violation of the law by smoking marijuana where you shouldn’t.

Public Places Where Smoking Marijuana Is Not Allowed

The term “public space” is vague so let’s define it more clearly here. According to Arizona law, public space is “an enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted.”

Examples of public spaces where people are not allowed to use marijuana include airports, restaurants, and shopping malls. It’s also important to note here that not all the spots in your place of residence may allow marijuana.

For instance, you may be allowed to smoke marijuana inside your apartment, but that’s probably the only place in that establishment where that activity is allowed. If you are planning to hang out in one of your apartment’s common areas, don’t bother bringing marijuana along because you’re not allowed to use it there.

Another notable wrinkle here is that your private residence can be deemed a public place as well depending on how it is being used. Homes that are being used as care facilities are considered public spaces too. Don’t smoke marijuana if your home is being used in that way unless you want to run afoul of the law.

Open Spaces Where Smoking Marijuana Is Not Allowed

Now that we’ve defined public spaces, let’s turn our attention to open spaces. The state of Arizona defines open spaces as parks, pedestrian thoroughfares, sidewalks, and walkways.

It doesn’t matter whether you isolate yourself while at the park or any other open space. Smoking marijuana there is illegal and you will be penalized if you are caught.

Speaking of penalties…

The Penalties for Getting Caught Smoking Marijuana in Public

Although using marijuana in private is now legal for adults in Arizona, that doesn’t mean that you can subject anyone to that activity. You still need to keep that action private. Failing to do so could lead to you facing some penalties.

The first time you are cited for smoking marijuana in public, you will be charged with a petty offense. The penalty for committing a petty offense is a fine. The fine for a petty offense is capped at $300.

You do not need to worry about jail time if you are caught smoking marijuana in public once.

Getting cited for using marijuana in public multiple times is a different issue. This time around, you will be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor.

Unlike petty offenses, class 3 misdemeanors carry two penalties. The first is a fine. The maximum amount you may pay after being found guilty of committing a class 3 misdemeanor is $500.

Violators may also be staring at potential jail time after they’re caught using marijuana in public more than once. The maximum jail sentence for that violation is 30 days. Partnering with an experienced attorney could help you get that sentence reduced, though.

Marijuana and the Workplace

Proposition 207 has not placed limitations on what employers can do with regards to marijuana. Employers are still allowed to set up their own rules regarding marijuana usage within the workplace.

As an employer, you can decide to prohibit the use of marijuana in the office. You can also enact certain policies that limit marijuana usage for your employees.

Upon being caught, an employee may argue that they were not smoking marijuana inside the office. They may argue that using marijuana in the parking lot or shared bathroom is not equivalent to smoking marijuana inside the workplace.

Even if they technically were not using marijuana inside the office, they may still violate certain rules. More specifically, smoking marijuana in those places constitutes using marijuana in public. You can report them to law enforcement for that violation and penalize them as you see fit for their actions.

Understandably, you may be worried that your current or former employee may attempt to sue you after you reprimanded them. Don’t be afraid because Arizona has laws in place that protect employers from being sued by former employees who were fired after doing drugs or drinking on the job.

The bottom line here for employees is that marijuana usage is best confined to the home. Bringing that habit to work without clearing it with your employer first can lead to some serious trouble. You can steer clear of that potential headache by only using marijuana in your place of residence.

Disqualifying Applicants for Marijuana Usage

Business owners are not required to allow or even accommodate their employees who use, possess, or display marijuana. If you’ve already established guidelines indicating that marijuana is not allowed in your place of business, you can reprimand your employees for violating them.

Some employers want to maintain drug-free work settings, which is why they are careful about who they hire. In pursuit of maintaining a drug-free workspace, you can ask applicants to participate in a drug test. If an applicant tests positive for marijuana, you are well within your rights as an employer to decline offering the job.

There is an exception for those who have been cleared for medical marijuana usage. Employers cannot cite a positive marijuana test as the reason why they denied an applicant if that person in question has medical marijuana exception.

Still, even those with a medical marijuana exception can only use the substance at home. If you found them smoking at work, you can penalize them.

One more thing to point out here is that marijuana users may be disqualified from certain jobs even if they have a medical exception. Using marijuana while performing certain tasks may bring up safety concerns. The safety of people on the job site takes precedence in that scenario.

smoking marijuana in a car

How Smoking Marijuana Affects Your Driving Privileges

Many of us often associate driving under the influence or DUI violations with drunk driving. It’s easy to understand why that happens because many DUI violations do indeed involve individuals who have consumed way too much alcohol still trying to operate their vehicles.

You should know that you can still be cited for a DUI violation even if you only used marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana was illegal prior to the enactment of Proposition 207 and that remains the case today.

Why Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Is Illegal

The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol are well known but don’t discount how much marijuana usage can impair you as well. The CDC has highlighted the different ways in which marijuana usage can affect your driving skills.

Per this fact sheet from the CDC, using marijuana can slow down your reaction while also adversely affecting your ability to make decisions. Even your coordination and perception can be adversely affected by marijuana usage. You can easily imagine how negative effects such as those can prove deadly when you’re behind the wheel of your car.

At this point, there is no roadside test that can accurately tell if you recently used marijuana. Don’t assume that the lack of an accurate test means you can get away with driving under the influence of marijuana, though. You may still be tested for marijuana after a potential incident.

The tricky thing about marijuana too is that it tends to hang around in the human body. Studies have found that marijuana can still be detected in a person’s body even though the last time they smoked was days or even weeks before. Remember too that you can be cited for a DUI violation if a drug metabolite is found in your system.

Err on the side of caution and avoid driving if you know that your head is not clear after using marijuana. Disregarding your current condition can land you in big trouble.

The Penalties for Getting Caught Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

The penalties for getting caught driving while under the influence of marijuana are harsher than the ones levied for smoking the substance in public. That holds true even for first-time offenders.

The first time you’re caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you will be sentenced to spend at least ten consecutive days in jail. You will also be fined not less than $1250 for your negligent actions. Offenders also render community service.

Individuals found guilty of driving under the influence also need to take part in education, screening, and treatment programs. Participating in one of those programs should teach you how dangerous impaired driving can truly be.

Penalties become more severe for repeat offenses.

The fine is now a minimum of $3000 while your jail sentence will be no shorter than 90 days. Rendering community service and participating in education, screening, and treatment programs also remain as requirements. They may revoke your driver’s license for twelve months if you are guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana more than once.

Can You Smoke Marijuana in Your Vehicle if You Are Not Driving?

Driving under the influence of marijuana is prohibited in the state of Arizona, but what about smoking marijuana in your car? Is that illegal even if you do not intend to drive?

Even with no intention to drive, smoking marijuana inside your vehicle is still prohibited. That makes sense considering how marijuana can affect you physically and mentally. You may not be planning to use the vehicle, but you may still move it accidentally in your impaired state.

One wrong move can lead to an accident, so it’s best to avoid being anywhere near your vehicle if you’re smoking marijuana.

By the way, flying an airplane and controlling a boat are also illegal actions when performed under the influence of marijuana.

Were you recently cited for violating one of Arizona’s laws regarding marijuana? If that’s the case, you will need expert legal representation.

A good attorney will argue on your behalf and prove your innocence if you were wrongfully accused. Your attorney can also negotiate for more lenient penalties on your behalf if you were found guilty of violating certain laws.

We at the Schill Law Group are ready to lend our legal expertise to all Arizona residents. Contact us today if you need expert legal minds fighting for you.