Yavapai County To Immediately Dismiss Pot Cases, Plus More Details From Maricopa

Yavapai County To Immediately Dismiss Pot Cases, Plus More Details From Maricopa
Yavapai County

Following Tuesday's passage of Proposition 207 and Monday's announcement that the Maricopa County Attorney's Office will dismiss "all pending and unfiled charges of possession of marijuana and any associated paraphernalia charges," the county has provided more detailed information about how many cases will be affected.

Maricopa County currently has about 6,000 cases that include a count that could be tossed now that pot is legal in Arizona.

However, as MCAO communications director Jennifer Liewer notes, "a significant number" of those cases include other felony charges, meaning that "the entire case will not be dismissed, only those charges covered by Prop 207." 

"Where the case is in the system does play a role in how we will deal with it," Liewer notes.

There are, Liewer says, roughly 3,500 bench warrants out that include charges for marijuana. If those charges would not have been an offense under Prop 207 — which allows those 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to keep six plants at home — they'll be dismissed.

An additional 1,400 charges "are in the preliminary hearing stage, meaning we have filed the case and are waiting for a determination of probable cause," Liewer says.

Another 1,000 charges were submitted prior to Tuesday's election but haven't been filed. "We will be able to reverse the decision before charges are filed" on those, Liewer says. And approximately 180 cases that include charges related to Prop 207 are currently in the trial phase.

"We have to review each individually," Liewer says of the cases involving pot charges. "We will not be able to know a true number of cases impacted until we individually review all of them."

Meanwhile, up in Yavapai County, a similar process is underway, County Attorney Sheila Polk's office announced Tuesday.

"Because of the new expungement provisions in Proposition 207, instead of continuing to expend resources on these cases, the Office will dismiss all pending charges of possession of marijuana and any associated paraphernalia charges for conduct that is covered by Proposition 207," Polk's office says. "This will include all cases pending in Early Disposition Court, those pending trial, and those set for sentencing or probation violation hearings."

That amounts to quite a turnaround for Polk, a longtime prosecutor with an anti-pot reputation in the county. Polk opposed Prop 207 and as recently as last year was comparing marijuana — medical marijuana, specifically — to "explosives."

How times change.
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David Hudnall is editor in chief of Phoenix New Times. He previously served as editor of The Pitch in Kansas City.
Contact: David Hudnall