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Hey there! I know you’re probably wondering if Amendment 821 applies to old convictions. This is a really good question that a lot of people have been asking lately. I’m going to walk through everything I know about this issue and hopefully make things a bit clearer for you.
First off, let me acknowledge that having a conviction on your record, whether old or new, can make life really difficult. There’s often a stigma attached, and it can impact things like finding a job or housing. I totally get why the possibility of having an old conviction erased thanks to this new law is appealing.
Okay, so here’s a quick background on Amendment 821. It was passed last year in order to expand opportunities for people with criminal records. The main thing it does is allow for automatic expungement of certain non-violent misdemeanor convictions after 7 years. An expungement means the conviction is essentially erased from your record.
The big question is whether this applies retroactively – can it erase old convictions from before the law was passed? Let’s dig into the legal issues here:
There’s been a lot of debate about whether Amendment 821 was meant to apply retroactively. Supporters of retroactive application point to the text of the law itself, which says convictions “shall be automatically expunged” after 7 years. They argue this indicates the law was meant to apply to past as well as future convictions.
However, opponents argue that the text is ambiguous. Here’s a relevant excerpt from a legal analysis on the issue:
The use of commas in the text creates ambiguity. While the law says convictions “shall be automatically expunged” after 7 years, there are commas setting off that clause. Some argue those commas indicate the timing clause was only meant to apply to future convictions, not retroactively.
As you can see, a lot hinges on those commas! This just shows how minute details in legal language can have big implications.
Let’s look at how courts have ruled on this issue so far. There have been two major decisions:
As you can see, courts have gone both ways on this issue so far. The rulings largely hinge on how judges interpret “legislative intent” – what the writers of the law meant for it to do.
So what does all this mean if you have an old conviction you’re hoping gets expunged? Here are a few key takeaways:
I know that’s not the clearest answer, but the law is still evolving here. My advice is stay patient and get individualized legal advice about your situation. And don’t lose hope! Even if Amendment 821 doesn’t apply retroactively statewide, there are other expungement options you can pursue.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help explain things and point you toward resources.
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