Arizona Defendant Wins Marijuana-Related Case on Appeal, Arguing for Conviction to be Removed from Record

Last month, an Arizona court of appeals reversed a lower court’s decision not to expunge a marijuana conviction from a defendant’s record. The defendant had asked for the conviction to be stricken from his record, but the trial court originally denied the defendant’s request. Looking more closely at the case, however, the court of appeals reversed this decision and directed the lower court to remove the conviction from the defendant’s record.

Facts of the Case

In 2013, the defendant in this case and one of his acquaintances were driving one night when a police officer stopped them and began questioning them about where they were headed. Upon further investigation, the officer discovered marijuana in the car, and he learned that the defendant was going to California to buy more marijuana. The officer arrested both the defendant and his acquaintance.

The defendant was charged and convicted of conspiracy to transport marijuana for sale, and he finished the terms of his parole in 2018. In 2022, the defendant filed a petition to expunge, or remove, the conviction from his record. The trial court denied that petition and the defendant promptly appealed.

The Decision

The lower court’s reason for denying the defendant’s petition was based on a newly enacted statute in Arizona, ARS 13-911. This statute allows for individuals to have their records expunged if they meet certain criteria. Here, the lower court focused on the fact that the defendant was convicted of a marijuana offense that involved “for sale” marijuana. The newly enacted law allowing the defendant to petition for expungement, said the court, did not apply to “for sale” offenses; it only allowed those defendants convicted of recreational marijuana offenses to receive a chance at expungement.

On appeal, however, the higher court reviewed a recent appellate decision that we covered on our blog last month. In this important decision, the court decided that “for sale” offenses are actually eligible for expungement. Because the statute allows defendants convicted of both recreational offenses and “for sale” offenses to petition for expungement, the defendant was right to ask for his record to be cleared.

Therefore, the court reversed the trial court’s decision, ruling that the marijuana conviction would be wiped from the defendant’s record. As a result, the defendant’s record will be wiped clean of his prior marijuana-related conviction.

Are You on the Lookout for an Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney?

The legal landscape in Arizona can be tough to navigate, but with the right attorneys by your side, you can make sure your rights are well protected. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we work hard for our clients because we know how much it can make a difference to have an expert in your corner. If you are facing criminal charges in Arizona and you need legal representation, call us today for a free and confidential consultation at (480) 413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case.


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