Court makes it easier for people to have records related to old marijuana-possession charges permanently deleted now that possession of small amounts …Posted by On

The Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday ordered records related to a Dorchester man’s arrest on marijuana-possession charges in 2003 and 2006 permanently deleted from court and criminal databases, under a state law that allows for “expungement” of such records for what are now legal activities.

In a ruling involving a Dorchester man, identified only as K.W., the state’s highest court ruled that a 2018 criminal-reform act was written with “a strong presumption in favor of expungement” and requires exceptional reasons to not expunge records related to what is no longer a “low level” criminal act.

A Boston Municipal Court judge had denied K.W.’s request, saying “the best interests of justice” required they remain forever in the system, even if under seal. In overturning that ruling, the SJC noted prosecutors did not contest the man’s assertion that he was caught with less than an ounce of marijuana each time and that he had gone on to become a productive member of society.

The court said that preserving the man’s records would serve no criminal-justice purpose since “even if a petitioner were again to engage in the same conduct as that which created the record, the petitioner would not have committed a criminal act” and that “records created as a result of one of these factors have virtually no bearing on whether the petitioner might commit a criminal act in the future, and their value to society therefore is vanishingly small.”

The judge who ruled on K.W.’s request did not…

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