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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

San Francisco County expunges all marijuana convictions

California readers may be interested to learn that San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon recently announced that over 9,300 marijuana-related convictions in San Francisco County have been expunged. The affected convictions date back as far as 1975.

The process of expunging the convictions was complicated and required the help of Code for America. The organization created an algorithm that helped identify 8,132 marijuana convictions that were eligible for expungement. The San Francisco District Attorney's Office was able to expunge 1,230 convictions on its own. The county is the first in the United States to fully clear its records of marijuana convictions, and Gascon said he hopes other California counties will soon follow suit.

According to Gascon, marijuana convictions harm society by keeping defendants from obtaining employment, housing, and education. As a result of this marginalization, many people re-offend and are sent back to prison. He further noted that San Francisco's African American population is below 5 percent, but African Americans made up 33 percent of all people who were convicted of marijuana-related offenses. Another 27 percent of convictions involved Latino defendants. The expungement process began after California passed Proposition 64 in 2016. The state ballot measure legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults ages 21 and up and allowed people with prior marijuana-related convictions to seek expungement from the court system.

Drug charges can have devastating, long-term consequences for those who are convicted. As a result, defendants accused of drug possession may want to contact a criminal defense attorney for help in attempting to counter the allegations.

Source: San Francisco Gate, "Update: Over 9K Marijuana-Related Convictions Expunged Successfully, DA Says," Feb. 25, 2019

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