2,735 Sonoma County marijuana convictions to be dismissed
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced last week that 2,735 Sonoma County marijuana convictions will be dismissed as part of a program initiated by her office with the assistance of the “Clear My Record” application, a state-wide software application that allows district attorneys to securely and accurately evaluate eligibility for Proposition 64 relief by reading and interpreting criminal history data from the California Department of Justice.
Proposition 64, which was passed into law by ballot initiative in 2016, amended provisions of the California Health and Safety Code to change how the state categorized cannabis crimes. With the passage of Proposition 64 some conduct that had previously been categorized as felonious was re-designated misdemeanor conduct, while conduct that had previously been characterized as misdemeanor conduct was re-designated as either punishable as an infraction or no longer illegal. Proposition 64 additionally gave those with prior cannabis convictions the right to petition courts to re-classify their convictions to conform to the severity of the offense post-Proposition 64, or to have their convictions dismissed altogether if the underlying conduct is no longer considered a crime.
A combination of factors, including the need for those convicted to file petitions with the court to seek relief, and the lengthy process for the petitions to make it through the courts, slowed the relief the law sought to provide. As a result, in 2018 the California Legislature passed AB 1793 which required the California Department of Justice to review state criminal history information, identify those eligible for relief under Proposition 64 to the courts, and the courts to automatically reduce or dismiss eligible convictions by July 1, 2020.
Using the Clear My Record software, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office identified 2,110 individuals eligible for Proposition 64 relief. Of those, 427 had misdemeanor convictions eligible for complete dismissal, and 1713 had felony convictions eligible for reduction to misdemeanors. However, Ravitch chose to offer further relief not required by the statute. Namely, the actual dismissal, and not just reduction, of the 1713 felony convictions identified by her office.
“My office has been very committed to working with those individuals seeking relief from marijuana convictions under the provisions of Proposition 64,” said Ravitch in the press release announcing the program . ”However, the process has often been slow, and the reach has been narrow. As a result, we have undertaken a thorough review of all cases identified by Code for America’s software program Clear My Record and determined that the only way to truly provide justice for these individuals is to go beyond the requirements of the statute and provide complete dismissal in each of the cases. We understand the burden that has been placed on individuals, families and communities as a result of cannabis convictions. I do not believe this is consistent with the values of the overwhelming number of people of Sonoma County, and therefore, we are taking aggressive steps to assist those affected.”
Ravitch noted that the 2,110 individuals will have a total of 2,735 total convictions dismissed. Of those, 2,254 charges were felonies and 481 were misdemeanors. Of the individuals being provided relief, 1,505 identified as White, 405 identified as Hispanic, 120 identified as Black, 25 identified as Asian, 16 identified as American Indian, eight identified as Pacific Islander, 20 identified as Other, and 11 identified as Unknown.
To find out if your record has been cleared, contact the law offices of the Sonoma County Public Defender or the Sonoma County Superior Court.