California voters passed Prop 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative in 2016. The ballot initiative passed with 57 percent of voters in favor. On January 1, 2018, recreational marijuana became legal in the state. Los Angeles County officials expected that tens of thousands of people with criminal records would take the steps necessary to remove or reduce marijuana convictions. Instead, the process to expunge those records was too large a hassle for most people. Now, L.A. County prosecutors are seeking to automate the process, reducing or dismissing marijuana convictions on behalf of 54,000 people.
To accomplish this feat, the District Attorney’s office will be using an algorithm developed by nonprofit tech organization Code for America. The software will scan digitized data to determine which convictions, dating back decades, are eligible for relief. It will then automatically fill out the appropriate forms to expedite the expungement process. Code for America’s algorithm was previously used in February for the same purpose in San Francisco. In San Francisco, 9,362 cases were reduced or dismissed using the algorithm. Prior, only 23 people in San Francisco sought relief under Prop 64.
The efficiency of the algorithm has already been demonstrated. According to the district attorney’s office, it took four years to process 26,000 cases under Proposition 47, which reduced certain marijuana convictions from felonies to misdemeanors. The algorithm identified eligible candidates under Prop 64 in 12 seconds. Code for America’s algorithm could also be used in other counties and even for state compliance with Assembly Bill 1793, which requires the California Department of Justice to identify state convictions eligible for dismissal under Prop 64.
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The benefits of expungement are immense, removing convictions and arrests from background checks and making it easier for people who made past mistakes to find work and housing. And expungement does not only apply to marijuana arrests. Any defendant charged with a state crime that does not result in a prison sentence can seek expungement of their criminal record. The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth helps our clients with the cumbersome paperwork to ensure that process is handled quickly and without error. Call us today at 888-517-9888 for a free expungement consultation.