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Expunging a Criminal Record in Arizona

Posted on September 8, 2021 in Expungement

Expunging a criminal record gives someone who has been convicted of a crime a fresh start. Record expungement means to seal the record – erasing it to most of the public. However, the state of Arizona’s expungement laws do not take effect until 2023. In the meantime, Arizona law allows an ex-offender to 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 courts 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.

Expungement vs. Setting Aside a Conviction

A record expungement means the courts agree to seal someone’s criminal record; the public, including employers and landlords, cannot access the individual’s criminal history. Only police officers and the courts, in certain situations, can access an expunged 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 the traditional expungement process, 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, for example, who will be able to see in your records that the courts have set aside a prior conviction. It can also lead to landlords viewing you more favorably on housing applications, as well as the restoration of your gun ownership rights.

If the courts grant an application to set aside a criminal record, they 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, after the passing of in April 2021, someone who has their record set aside may also qualify for a Certificate of Second Chance, which allows the 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.