Sonoma DA: I Won’t Follow SF DA’s Lead in Expunging Local Pot Convictions

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch says she won’t move to proactively expunge cannabis convictions in the county. 

During a press conference Friday in Coffey Park, Ravitch was asked about the move undertaken by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon this week to clear nearly 40 years’ worth of misdemeanor cannabis possession convictions in that city.

In a move celebrated by everyone from Tokey McPuffups to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Gascon moved to erase nearly 3,000 misdemeanor convictions, and said his office would take a look at reclassifying about 5,000 felony convictions as misdemeanors.

Ravitch is meanwhile sticking with the expungement process as set out in the Proposition 64, she says. “You know, at this point I’m not planning to follow the lead of Mr. Gascon. I think that there’s a petition process in place and if the voters had wanted us to take the affirmative action of recalling and dismissing all of those cases, it would have been part of the initiative. So I plan to follow within the confines of what the initiative requires. And so I’m working with the public defender and I know that we’ll be reviewing those petitions and we will be taking appropriate action.”

Ravitch noted that the process for self-expungment allows people to do it themselves without a lawyer as she highlighted that there’s a process already in place in Sonoma County. “It’s not an expensive endeavor and there’s not always a lawyer necessary,” she says, “so if individuals do want to have their matters expunged, they can actually go on the Sonoma County court website, get the paperwork, file it themselves, come into court themselves and we’ll address them just as we’d address any attorney.”

Proposition 64 grants judicial latitude to expunge pot cases if the underlying crime that gave rise to the original charge is no longer a crime. For example, a person arrested in possession of a ounce of cannabis in 2015 was no longer a criminal as of 2016, and could set out to have the conviction expunged from their record.

Ravitch was in Coffey Park on separate business—a joint press conference with the California Contractors State License Board, where they announced a big sting had been undertaken Saturday. The effort netted thirteen unlicensed contractors who were trying to get work in fire-ravaged areas, and most were charged with felonies.

Sonoma County Library