Posted on September 15, 2021 in Expungement
Being convicted of a crime in Arizona will create a permanent criminal record. The more you know about criminal records, including how to look them up and who has access to them, the better you will understand your own situation if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in Arizona. Knowledge about criminal record searches can allow you to be more proactive in understanding, correcting and setting aside your criminal record.
A criminal record may be stored in multiple locations by several different agencies, including law enforcement offices, state and federal criminal justice databases, and government agencies. They may also end up on the news or social media sites since criminal records are a matter of public record in Arizona unless they are sealed – such as a defendant who is under the age of 18.
According to Arizona Revised Statute Section 41-1750, all documents related to a person’s criminal history are in the public domain. The Arizona Department of Public Safety is the main repository that stores criminal records. Only authorized individuals and agencies, however, may access these records. These include employers, law enforcement agencies, the courts and the individual who is the subject of the record.
If you wish to obtain your own criminal record report, you must complete the Record Review Packet from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which you can request by calling (602) 223-2222 (the Criminal History Records Section). The packet will ask for general information about you and require your fingerprints to be taken at a law enforcement agency to verify your identity. Once the department receives your packet, if all of the required information is there, it will mail you a response within 15 days.
The criminal record report you receive from the department will contain information such as the offender’s full name and any known aliases, age, sex, mugshot, fingerprints, past and current criminal charges, arrest warrants, and conviction records. You may also be able to access a criminal record in Arizona using a third-party website, although the information may not be as detailed. A third-party site may be necessary if you only have limited information about the record subject.
Many different authorized people and agencies, including employers and landlords, may request background checks that show the individual’s criminal history in Arizona. The only way to seal a criminal record, or to erase it from public view, is to request a record expungement. Arizona’s new expungement laws are due to take effect in 2023. In the meantime, there is a law for setting aside a conviction.
Section 13-905 of the law gives most ex-offenders, with some exceptions for certain crimes, the ability to have a judgment of guilt set aside. Unlike record expungement, setting aside a conviction does not seal or erase the record completely. Instead, the criminal record will still exist, with a note that it has been “set aside” by the courts. Setting aside the conviction, however, can come with many of the same benefits as record expungement. It can make it easier for the ex-offender to find employment, a career, housing and own firearms.
Keeping up with your criminal record after a conviction in Arizona can come with several benefits. If you notice a discrepancy or inaccuracy on your record, for example, you have the right to request a correction by the courts. If you are a qualifying individual who has fulfilled the terms of your sentence or probation after a conviction, you may be able to set aside the conviction to enjoy related benefits. For more information about criminal records in Arizona or professional assistance changing or setting aside your criminal record, contact an expungement lawyer in Phoenix today.