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Thousands of drug cases may be expunged in San Francisco

Legislation in California called Proposition 64 makes it legal for adults in the state to use marijuana. It also allows those convicted of a drug offense related to marijuana to petition the state for leniency. In San Francisco, the district attorney has announced that convictions dating back to 1975 will be expunged and dismissed automatically. As of September 2017, only 232 petitions had been filed in the city while 4,885 had been filed statewide.

Those who are eligible to have their cases retroactively dismissed may avoid asking for relief for many reasons. For some, it may be seen as a hassle to fill out and file paperwork. For others, it may be difficult to pay the filing fee and pay the cost of retaining legal counsel if necessary. The financial roadblock may dissuade minority and other vulnerable individuals from seeking to have their cases reviewed.

However, minorities are also more likely to be impacted by cases involving marijuana. Although they made up only 8 percent of the general population, 41 percent of those taken into custody on marijuana charges in 2000 were black. It is believed that the step being taken in San Francisco may serve as a model for how other cities deal with past marijuana crimes amid a movement to legalize its use.

Those who are facing drug possession charges or who were convicted of drug possession in the past may want to consult with an attorney. Individuals who are currently facing drug charges may learn more about how they may be able to obtain a favorable outcome in their case. This might be done by casting doubt on evidence such as witness testimony or a police report. Individuals convicted of marijuana crimes may learn more about how to have their charges expunged.

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.