In this blog, we often discuss the expungement of criminal convictions and how getting your record expunged can feel like a second chance at living the life you want. But not everyone who is eligible to request an expungement actually does so.
Over in Montana, voters recently approved the legalization of marijuana. Part of the new law allows expungement of marijuana-related offenses from residents’ records. The legislature even set aside money to create a special court to handle the expected expungement requests.
Few expungement filings so far
The new cannabis law went into effect on Jan. 1. So far, there have not been many filings for expungement, to the point that the courts in Montana are scrapping the special court plan. The court administrator believes that the low volume means local courts can handle them as usual.
What might be holding people back?
Why aren’t more people with a marijuana conviction in their past seeking an expungement? It’s possible that the newly created chance to seek an expungement of a marijuana offense has not been well-publicized. Maybe a lot of the eligible people there do not believe their criminal record has much effect on their lives.
Another possible explanation is that people think the process is too complicated. It’s true that the expungement process is more complex than, say, renewing your driver’s license, and there is no guarantee the court will approve your request. But with the right guidance from an attorney, you can make sure you follow the procedures correctly and present the best possible case that an old conviction should no longer hold you back.