University of Arizona Students Launch Expungement Clinic

Law students in Tucson, Arizona are helping people through an expungement process.

Student advocates from the University of Arizona at the James E. Rogers School of Law in Tucson are personally taking action to help people clear records for low-level cannabis-related convictions. A series of expungement event dates are unfolding, and students say that the initial process to get records cleared is fast.

KGUN 9 reports that locals, including one with a charge dating back to 1976, are taking advantage of the school’s expungement program. Cannabis-related charges that old are still impacting employment and other opportunities.

Law school students including Mia Burcham and Rebecca Caro Cohen are helping people expunge their records at expungement clinics on campus. To do this, they look up disposition dates which they said are usually available through public access court records.

“It’s a great feeling when someone walks out with a cleared record. It could be pretty life-changing,” Burcham said.

Burcham also provides expungement training and calls for volunteers for help. The training covers the appropriate forms and process, as well as clinic expectations and tips for client interaction. 

The expungement process is relatively fast. According to Burcham and Cohen, people don’t even need an I.D. to get a record expunged. All they need to know is the date when they received the charge or arrest and where.

Some of the oldest charges, however, aren’t on any computer system and take longer to process. When that happens, petitioners seeking expungements must contact the court directly and ask for a records search. 

“We really hope when people come in that we’ll be able to get them out the door with a completed petition and so we aren’t able to do that which is frustrating,” Cohen said.

The next round of expungements is scheduled to take place on March 25 at the law school. They said if someone gets denied, they work with the Arizona Marijuana Expungement Coalition to provide free legal help to people.

If someone cannot make it to the University of Arizona clinic in Tuscon, they can visit this website to sign up for an expungement. It typically takes about one to two months total to find out whether someone got their record expunged.

Arizona residents with low-level cannabis convictions can have their records wiped clean under a state expungement program launched on July 13, 2021. The expungements for minor cannabis convictions are thanks to Proposition 207, the 2020 ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older that was approved by 60% of Arizona voters.

Under the program, people with low-level convictions for possessing, transporting, or consuming 2.5 ounces or less of cannabis, of which no more than 12.5 grams can be a cannabis concentrate or extract, are eligible to have their records expunged. 

People with convictions for possessing, cultivating, processing, or transporting up to six cannabis plants at their primary residence can also apply to clear their records. Expungements can also be issued for convictions for possessing, using, or transporting paraphernalia related to the consumption, cultivation, and processing of cannabis.

People who are eligible for expungement are required to petition the courts to have their records cleared. Help is also available from other organizations including Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), which has been offering expungement clinics through its Project Clean Slate initiative.

Arizona’s most populous county took an early lead. The Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County granted 3,643 petitions for expungement of cannabis-related charges since the process started, according to an Aug. 30, 2021 press release.

Law students with the know-how are proving to be helpful in clearing records under Arizona’s expungement program.

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