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Removing a Misdemeanor Marijuana Conviction From Your Record

Comments Off on Removing a Misdemeanor Marijuana Conviction From Your Record

In 2012, Washington voters approved recreational marijuana use for adults aged 21 and older. However, many Washington residents still have misdemeanor marijuana convictions on their records—impacting their ability to find employment, immigrate to different parts of the world, or secure professional licenses. If you have a misdemeanor conviction for marijuana on your criminal record, you have the right to have it vacated under the Washington Marijuana Justice Initiative.

What Does It Mean to Have a Conviction Vacated?

When you ask to have a conviction vacated, you essentially request that the court dismisses your case and the verdict that accompanied it. After a vacated conviction, it will appear as if your initial trial and the conviction for the misdemeanor never occurred. You can truthfully claim that you have never received a conviction for a crime.

However, prosecutors in your case may retain the opportunity to pursue criminal charges against you. In cases of marijuana crimes, these prosecutors will not usually have a legal basis to do so. If you want to vacate a conviction, it is important that you discuss your case with a defense attorney to assess your legal rights and options.

Who Is Eligible to Have Their Conviction Vacated?

In Washington, you can request the state to vacate misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and some felony crimes. To be eligible for this process, you cannot have any active criminal charges against you, and you must have completed the terms of your sentence. Additionally, you incur any new convictions between the present and the date of the conviction you want to vacate.

You will also need to meet the following requirements based on the type of conviction you received. You cannot vacate a conviction for a violent crime or a crime against a person.

  • Misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors: You must have exhibited at least three years of good behavior since you completed your sentence.
  • Assault 4 domestic violence and Class C felonies: You must have at least five years of good behavior.
  • Class B felony: You must have at least 10 years of good behavior.

What Is the Process for Vacating Your Conviction?

Due to the passage of the Marijuana Justice Initiative, it is easier for Washington residents to vacate marijuana misdemeanor convictions compared to other types of crimes. Under this Initiative, the Governor of Washington has the ability to pardon individuals who have a single adult misdemeanor marijuana possession crime on their records. To do so, you will need to submit an online petition to the Office of the Governor and request a pardon for your conviction.

If you have multiple marijuana convictions on your record, you can pursue a vacated conviction under SB 5605, which was passed in 2019. Under this law, you can request the sentencing court to vacate your marijuana conviction record. However, you will need to submit this request directly to each court where you received each condition. You will need to prove that you meet all eligibility requirements for the convictions you are seeking to remove.

Vacating a conviction in Washington can be a complex process without an attorney on your side. Your lawyer will understand the rules necessary to vacate your conviction, will have the ability to assess your eligibility, and can submit the necessary documentation on your behalf. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and initiate the vacating process.

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