Over seven months ago, individuals in Arizona with certain marijuana-related convictions became eligible to have their criminal records expunged, or cleared, of the conviction, under Proposition 207, the Arizona Safe and Smart Act.
In the summer of 2021, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) began proactively filing petitions to expunge the convictions for eligible people. These petitions included individuals convicted of certain marijuana-related offenses and individuals charged with a marijuana offense who successfully completed a diversion program but still had an arrest and dismissal on their criminal record.
Given the MCAO limited resources, MCAO prioritized the most recent cases. To date, MCAO has filed over 10,000 petitions to expunge eligible closed cases involving marijuana; over 7,000 of those petitions were filed in cases handled by the office since 2016. MCAO limited the filings to about 500 a week to avoid overwhelming the court system.
In addition to proactive filings, MCAO also created a public website where individuals could ask prosecutors to review their case and, if eligible, have MCAO file a petition to expunge their conviction.
Since, July 12, 2021, MCAO has filed 10,607 expungement petitions in closed cases, including 1,094 petitions generated from 1,340 inquiries initiated through the public website.
The office has also responded to approximately 1,186 petitions filed by individuals, either themselves or through an attorney.
“I believe that the will of the voters should be implemented as efficiently as possible,” said Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. “My office is working diligently to continue to identify those cases and assist individuals who have a right to have their records expunged under this voter approved law.”
Immediately following the certification of the election, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed motions to dismiss pending cases in Maricopa County affected by the new law. The MCAO proactively filed to dismiss or drop over 5,000 charges related to the use, transportation or cultivation of recreational marijuana.