While Connecticut has not yet joined the handful of states to legalize recreational marijuana use, the legislature did decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2011. So, while possessing any amount of marijuana used to be a crime in Connecticut, possessing less than half an ounce is now a violation – similar to a traffic violation – with no possible jail time and a fine of $150 for a first offense.
You may be wondering what that means for you if you have a marijuana conviction on your record. The good news is that Connecticut has an erasure law, which means that if a person has been convicted of an offense that is later decriminalized, he or she can petition to have the conviction erased from his or her criminal record.
Some employers still don’t want to hire anyone with a marijuana conviction. Professional licensing boards may have an issue with a past marijuana conviction. In addition, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance – the most serious classification. Based on federal laws, a marijuana conviction on your record can disqualify you from federal funds for student aid and can lead to deportation for noncitizens.
Connecticut Supreme Court Ruling on Marijuana Expungements
Connecticut law allows people who’ve been convicted of crimes to apply for an expungement that effectively erases the conviction from their record. If you’re granted an expungement, employers, licensing boards, immigration officials, and others will not see the fact that you had a prior charge or conviction, which means the conviction won’t have continued effects on your life.
Connecticut’s erasure law that says if a person has an offense on his or her record that has since been decriminalized, that person can petition to have the conviction erased from his or her criminal record. Soon after the decriminalization bill was passed in July 2011, one Connecticut man petitioned the court to expunge his two misdemeanor marijuana convictions that would now be considered only violations. The case, State v. Menditto, made it to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which ruled in the petitioner’s favor in 2015.
As a result of the ruling, many people can benefit from having their marijuana convictions erased more easily. Only a couple of months after the ruling, news headlines reported that courts in Connecticut were “erasing pot convictions at a high rate.”
Not everyone who has a marijuana conviction on his or her record can benefit from the Menditto decision, though. The ruling applies only to those who were convicted of possessing less than half an ounce. However, if you’ve got a conviction for a greater amount, you can still try to get your record expunged through the traditional expungement process. This process involves several steps, including:
- Waiting three years for a misdemeanor conviction or five years for a felony
- Submitting a complete and accurate application for an expungement
- Having your application reviewed by the Board of Pardons and Parole
Having the advice of a knowledgeable expungement attorney who understands the process in Connecticut can increase your chances of having your expungement granted so that you can move on with your life without a conviction following you around.
Discuss Your Options with an Experienced Connecticut Expungement Law Firm
Seeking an erasure/expungement of a past conviction is not always a simple task, and many people face complications during this process. It is always a good idea to talk to an experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyer who understands expungement laws and procedures. The team at Koffsky & Felsen, LLC will review your situation and advise you of your options to have your name cleared.