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Marijuana and Expungement

Expungement means that the arrest, the court case and the decision on the charges are treated as if they never happened. This means that these charges:

  • will not show up on a criminal history record search or your RAP sheet.
  • can’t be used against you to deny you housing, student loans, or a job.
  • can’t be found by law enforcement.
  • don’t have to be listed on a job or school application that asks if you’ve been convicted of or arrested for that crime

Definition of expungement in CPL 1.20(45).

In New York, only some marijuana charges are expunged.


Marijuana Charges That Are Expunged

Some marijuana possession charges are automatically expunged. This applies to some past convictions and some new convictions.

Before August 28, 2019: If you smoked marijuana in public, held it out in the open, or possessed more than 25 grams, you may have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime under old law. If you were charged with Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the 5th Degree PL 221.10, a Class B misdemeanor, all records of this conviction will be automatically expunged.

If you were charged with unlawful possession of marihuana, PL 221.05, a violation, all records of this conviction will be automatically expunged.

After August 28, 2019: If you are charged with these marijuana offenses, your record will be automatically expunged when your case is over:

  • Unlawful Possession of Marihuana in the 1st Degree PL 221.10 or
  • Unlawful Possession of Marihuana in the 2nd Degree PL 221.05

For example, if you are guilty and fined, your conviction will be expunged. But, you still must pay your fine. Read Possession of Marijuana Basics.

Expungement is automatic. You don’t have to do anything. The court system, DCJS, police, District Attorneys and law enforcement agencies will be notified. You don’t get a notice when this happens. But it will happen without you doing anything.

Note: The law says that it may take up to a year, until August 27, 2020 for all your records to be expunged. Your convictions won’t show up on your RAP sheet or a criminal record history after August 28, 2019. But, if you apply for a job as a police officer, or apply for a gun license during this year, your records will be seen by officials.


What’s Not Expunged

Other crimes involving marijuana not listed on this page are not expunged. But, you may be able to ask the court to “seal” these crimes. Sealing does not erase the crimes, but keeps most records hidden from the public. Visit Sealed Criminal Records. If your criminal record can’t be sealed, you can still get some of your rights back by getting a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct.


Marijuana Expungement and Deportation

The federal government may not accept New York State’s expungement of criminal records. If your conviction before August 28. 2019 is expunged, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can still see the record and act on it.

But, if the conviction is vacated and dismissed by a Judge, then your immigration status won’t be impacted. To ask the court to vacate and dismiss your conviction, you need to do paperwork – a motion, appear in court, and convince the Judge. The motion must explain to the judge how you will continue to be hurt if the conviction is not vacated. Read CPL 440.10. It is a good idea to speak to an immigration lawyer.

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