Bill Could Wipe Out Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions In Washington State

A bill passed by the Washington House of Representatives on April 23 and by the Senate on April 29 could wipe out thousands of marijuana convictions that occurred before the state decriminalized the drug in 2012 for people over 21. The measure relates to misdemeanor marijuana offense convictions. Under the previous law, it was a misdemeanor for an individual to be in possession of less than 40 grams (the equivalent of just under an ounce) of marijuana. Following Washington's decriminalizing of the drug in 2012, the bill, HB 5605, states that every person convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana offense who was 21 years of age or older at the time can apply to the sentencing court for a vacation (removal) of the applicant's record of conviction.

Once the court vacates the record of conviction, the person is released from all related penalties. This means it will not be included in the individual's criminal history for purposes of determining a sentence in any later conviction. For all purposes, including responding to questions on employment or housing applications, people whose convictions have been vacated can state that they have never been convicted of that crime. While some use of marijuana is no longer criminal, possession of more than an ounce without a medical recommendation is still a misdemeanor in Washington State.

Possession of more than 40 grams, unlicensed cultivation and unlicensed distribution are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines. At Peale Law Firm in Seattle, Washington, we have extensive criminal defense experience for clients accused of drug charges throughout the state, including hundreds of jury trials. We can also provide valuable guidance about a possible alternative to trial, including a plea agreement or diversion program if presenting your case before a jury is not likely to give you the best result. We're available 24 hours a day. Call us at [ln::phone] or contact us online for a free consultation.