New Yorkers who had their low-level marijuana convictions expunged from their record, per the passage of the Marijuana and Decriminalization and Expungements Bill in July of 2019, can now go a step further by requesting that the physical documentation of these arrests be destroyed.
Although the history of these charges have now been sealed from the view in nearly all circumstances under the bill, they can still seen by agencies granting pistol permits or by law enforcement agencies during the hiring process for a job as a police or peace officer, until they are fully destroyed, according to information issued by the New York State Unified Court System.
“If you decide to apply for destruction, the arrest, prosecution and criminal history records related to your expunged marihuana conviction are destroyed, and there will be no record of your arrest or conviction for these charges. In other words, it will be like it never happened,” said an explanatory page on the destruction process, which was announced on Friday, Sept. 18.
Per the bill, the charge of fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana under penal law 221.05, which was a misdemeanor was reduced to the new violation of first-degree unlawful possession of marijuana, and what used to be known as just unlawful possession of marijuana under penal law 221.10 became second-degree unlawful possession of marijuana, also a violation.
Both charges are now only punishable by a small charge under $200 and no jail time.
Regardless of whether they were convicted before or after the passage of the bill, New Yorkers with charges of under penal law 221.05 or 221.10 can apply through the court where they were sentenced to have their records cleared and the physical evidence of those arrests destroyed.
Those who accrued additional charges at the same time as their now-expunged marijuana charge will still have those additional charges on their record, and physical records of those other charges will be kept intact.
The state will ultimately send those who apply a letter, letting them know whether their records were approved to be destroyed.
The application can be accessed online, or be picked up in person from the court where they were sentenced (it cannot be processed at a different court) and filed in-person or by mail. From there, applications will be sent to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, then to the law enforcement agencies that carried out the arrests in question.
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