The Criminal Record Expungement Act requires that all public records maintained by the state are automatically expunged after two years if the crime on record is no longer a crime under the new Cannabis Regulation Act. This applies to both arrest records and conviction records. If the record contains additional crimes, only the crimes related to cannabis will be removed.
The Criminal Record Expungement Act applies primarily to public employment (state government jobs) and state-sponsored licenses, such as business licenses. The law does not prevent private employers from making hiring decisions based on arrest records or convictions.
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The Criminal Record Expungement Act prevents the state from using a prior conviction as an automatic reason to deny a job application to work for the state. However, the state can consider convictions as a reason to deny a job if the candidate has been selected as a finalist. In essence, the law forbids the state from automatically turning away all applicants with a record.
“Power to Refuse”
The new law allows the state to deny an application or revoke an existing application for a job or license if the applicant is convicted of a felony that “directly relates” to the job or license they are applying to. If the applicant is trying to get a job or license related to teaching or childcare, the state can also deny an application if the applicant is convicted of homicide, kidnapping, human trafficking, trafficking in controlled substances, criminal sexual penetration, or related sexual offenses or child abuse. And if the application is denied for one of these reasons, the state has to let the applicant know the reason for denial.
For people currently serving time for an offense that is no longer a crime under the Cannabis Regulation Act, their case can be reopened. Then, if a court finds the conviction invalid under the new law, it can dismiss the sentence.
“All Past Convictions”
Before January 1, 2022, the Department of Public Safety must review all the records in the state’s databases and identify those eligible for expungement. Prosecutors then have until July 1, 2022, to determine whether to challenge the expungement.
“Inform the Court”
If a prosecutor challenges an expungement, the prosecutor must inform the court and the defense. If there is no challenge to an expungement, the prosecutor will also let the court know that they don’t plan to challenge.
The new law states the review and potential dismissal of sentences will come at no cost to incarcerated people. This also applies to juveniles that have been incarcerated.
“Petition to Modify”
People currently or previously incarcerated for a cannabis-related crime that is no longer a crime under the new Cannabis Regulation Act can petition to have their sentence modified. If a court grants the petition, they have 30 days to expunge the necessary records.
People under the age of 18 will either have their records expunged after two years from the time the record was created or have their records expunged when they turn 18, whichever comes first. This, of course, only applies to cannabis charges now legal under the new Cannabis Regulation Act.