Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey is asking the court to throw out nearly 66,000 marijuana convictions, some of which date back decades.
At a news conference Thursday, Lacey said her motion represents something that has never been done before in state history.
“We believe it is the largest effort in California to wipe out old criminal convictions in a single court motion,” Lacey told CBS Los Angeles.
Initially, Lacey said prosecutors had been working to reduce past marijuana convictions from felonies to misdemeanors after Proposition 64 passed in 2016. But she said she didn’t think this went far enough.
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“I’ve instructed my deputy district attorneys to ask the court to dismiss all eligible cannabis-related convictions,” Lacey said at the press conference, according to CBS Los Angeles. “I also took the will of the voters one step further. I expanded the criteria to go above and beyond the parameters of the law to ensure that many more people will benefit from this historic moment in time.”
People eligible to potentially have their convictions thrown out include anyone 50 years of age or older, people who have not been convicted of a crime over the past 10 years, people with convictions who successfully completed probation and people under the age of 21 with convictions.
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“As a result of our actions these convictions should no longer burden those who have struggled to find a job or a place to live because of their criminal record,” Lacey explained.
Lacey filed the motion on Tuesday, also requesting that the court seal the convictions. In total, this would impact about 62,000 felony cannabis convictions and 3,700 were misdemeanor possession convictions, across L.A. County, including Burbank, Pasadena, Inglewood, Santa Monica, and Torrance.
“If you have a record, you don’t have to worry about even going through and having it sealed…We’re making a motion to seal it because we realize that’s the issue,” Lacey said, reported CBS Los Angeles. “When you go to apply for a job, you go to apply for housing and your record comes up, even though we’ve expunged it, that may not give you help.”
Lacey made the move three weeks before the March 3 Primary, where she is hoping to get re-elected to a third term. Her challengers include George Gascon, the former San Francisco DA, and Rachel Rossie, a former federal public defender.
People can call the L.A. County Public Defender’s Office to see if their case is eligible for dismissal at 323-760-6763.