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How Illinois’ legalization of cannabis affects expungements

| Mar 22, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, Illinois residents over the age of 21 can now purchase small amounts of cannabis from licensed retail sellers. Because of legalization, which began on Jan. 1, 2020, individuals may apply for an expungement of a prior criminal record related to a cannabis offense.

As reported by the Journal Star, misdemeanor and low-level felony arrest records may qualify for an automatic expungement. Law enforcement officials may seal or block an arrest record from a public search request if the cannabis offense classifies as minor.

Expungement requires qualifying circumstances

Adults charged with a non-violent possession or dealing offense may have their records purged automatically. The amount of the cannabis involved, however, must not have exceeded 30 grams, as noted by the Illinois Office of State Appellate Defender.

An individual charged with dealing may clear his or her prior record if the sale did not take place with an individual under the age of 18. Cases that do not include an additional charge related to violence, such as carrying an illegal firearm while in possession, may qualify for expungement.

An individual may need to petition the court for removal

Individuals convicted of a felony cannabis offense generally do not qualify for an automatic record expungement. As reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, an expungement may require filing a petition if a dealing or possession conviction included between 30 and 500 grams of cannabis.

An automatic expungement deletes an individual’s arrest record; it may not remove a case record from an Illinois court database. Preparing necessary documents and filing a petition may help an individual seal a record and move forward in finding a new job or home.