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Expunging a Criminal Record in Arizona

Posted on February 13, 2024 in Expungement

Expunging a criminal record gives someone who has been convicted of a crime a fresh start. Unlike sealing a court record, which makes it invisible to most of the public but still leaves it accessible to law enforcement and Arizona courts, expungement will erase a conviction.

Arizona law allows an ex-offender to expunge, seal, or set aside a conviction, provided they meet specific criteria.

What Is Setting Aside a Conviction in Arizona?

Arizona Revised Statute Section 13-905 states that with some exceptions, someone convicted of a criminal offense can apply to the court to have the judgment of guilt set aside after he or she fulfills the conditions of the probation or sentence. Anyone who is convicted of a crime in Arizona who is eligible for this process will be informed of this right when he or she receives the sentence. 

If the individual is trying to set aside a felony record, he or she will have to wait two to five years after fulfilling the sentence to apply. A misdemeanor crime, however, does not have a waiting period.

The crimes that are not eligible for having the records set aside include:

  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Criminal speeding
  • Aggressive driving
  • Hit-and-run
  • Crimes involving a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • Crimes that cause serious bodily injuries
  • Crimes that make the defendant register as a sex offender
  • Crimes with a finding of sexual motivation
  • Crimes against victims under the age of 15

Upon fulfilling the sentence imposed after being convicted of a crime, the individual, his or her attorney, or the probation officer may send in the paperwork to apply to have the courts set aside the judgment. There is no fee for this application. 

The court may approve or deny the application based on factors such as the nature of the offense, whether the applicant complied with the conditions of the probation or sentence imposed, whether the person is a repeat offender, the amount of time that has passed since the completion of the sentence, the applicant’s age at the time of conviction, and more.

Sealing a Record vs. Setting Aside a Conviction

Sealing a record means the court agrees to conceal your criminal record. The public, including employers and landlords, cannot access your sealed criminal history. Only police officers and the courts, in certain situations, can access a sealed criminal record. Setting aside, on the other hand, does not erase the record completely. Instead, the record shows a note that the courts have “set aside” the conviction.

While setting aside a record does not come with all of the benefits of record expungement or sealing, there are many advantages to applying if you qualify. Having your record set aside can reflect positively on you as a job applicant to an employer, who will be able to see in your records that the courts have set aside a prior conviction. It can also lead to a landlord viewing you more favorably on a housing application, as well as the restoration of your gun ownership rights.

If the court grants an application to set aside a criminal record, it will dismiss the charge brought against you and release you from any penalties or disabilities related to your conviction. This can allow you to move past your criminal record and improve your career and housing prospects. 

In addition, someone who has a record set aside may also qualify for a Certificate of Second Chance, which allows that person to obtain occupational licenses that were previously barred to those with criminal convictions.

If you have further questions about record expungement or the setting aside of a conviction in Arizona, consult with a Phoenix expungement attorney today about your unique situation.