What Is Set Aside/Expungement Law in Arizona?
States have different terms for legal proceedings. Legal terms that are common in some states may be called something entirely different in another, with slight differentiation in the meaning. For example, what Arizona called an “Order of Protection” or an “Injunction Against Harassment” may be called a Restraining Order in other states. The term “expungement” is sometimes called:
Setting aside a criminal conviction
- Record clearing
- Record sealing
- Record relief.
If you’d like to research laws in other states, the Restoration of Rights Project (RRP), part of the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, is an excellent resource.
People desire to clean up their criminal records for many reasons, and a court process allows people to put events in their past behind them. Although, unlike other states, true expungement or complete erasure of criminal records is generally not available in Arizona (although marijuana expungements are available - see below). However, a process is available to clean up your record through the court system (which changed for the benefit of ex-offenders in August 2021).
In Arizona, you may be able to have a felony or misdemeanor conviction of guilt set aside. When a background check is run, such as for an employer or a landlord, a notation will be made indicating the conviction has been set aside. This is currently the closest thing available to an expungement in Arizona.
Arizona’s Certificate of Second Chance - A.R.S. 13-905
A new law was signed in 2021, which amended Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) Section 13-905, and allowed courts to issue an order for a “Certificate of Second Chance” for individuals “whose judgment of guilt is set aside” after a criminal conviction. This is additional relief granted in addition to your granted motion to set aside. If you received a set aside before August 2021, you may be eligible to obtain a certificate of second chance separately - the Law Offices of Brandon White, P.C. can help you with that.
Sealing of Records - A.R.S. 13-911
Beginning January 1, 2023, A.R.S. 13-911 will allow misdemeanors and all but violent and sexual felonies to be sealed after a waiting period ranging from two to ten years after completion of sentence and payment of court debt.
Benefits of Sealing a Criminal Record
In the past, Arizona law has not allowed for records to be sealed. But SB1294, authorized in 2021 and going into effect in 2023, enacted A.R.S. § 13-911. It also authorized the sealing of uncharged arrests and dismissed and acquitted charges for all but Class 1 felonies and certain violent and sexual offenses. There will be no limit to the number of convictions that can be sealed.
Beginning January 1, 2023, if a person “has not subsequently been convicted of any other offense except a misdemeanor [a traffic violation other than a DUI],” the person may petition the court to seal the record “after the person completes all of the terms and conditions of the person’s sentence, including paying all fines, fees, and restitution that are ordered by the court.” The applicable waiting period will apply based on the time passed since the conviction:
- Class 2 and 3 felonies (10 years),
- Class 4, 5, and 6 felonies (5 years)
- Class 1 misdemeanor (3 years)
- Lower-grade misdemeanors (2 years).
The benefits of a sealed record are additional protection from stigma and discrimination. If your record is sealed, it will not appear on most general background checks done by employers, licensing agencies, or even potential romantic partners (and their relatives).
Call Record Expungement Attorneys in Chandler for a Consultation
Having a criminal conviction set aside can allow you to move forward in your life. If you’d like to talk with a Phoenix expungement lawyer about your rights and options, call us today at (602) 237-6772.
Who Is Eligible for Set Aside in Arizona?
In order to have a criminal conviction set aside in Arizona, the conviction must have happened in an Arizona court. Conviction from any other state cannot be addressed in Arizona. If your conviction occurred in Arizona, your eligibility to have your conviction set aside under ARS 13-905 depends on:
- Whether you’ve completed your sentence.
- Whether your conviction is eligible or ineligible
- Certain factors a judge must consider under ARS 13-905, including the nature and circumstances of the offense and your compliance with conditions of probation and the sentence.
Note that If your crime included revocation of your driver’s license in Arizona, a set aside will have no effect on your driver’s license. Contact our law firm if you have questions about eligibility.
The Expungement Process in Phoenix
Under Ariz. Admin. Code § 13-1-102, your criminal record remains attached to you until you are age 99. While we hope everyone achieves that milestone, no one has to wait until age 99 to seek relief. In Arizona, this process is called having a conviction “set aside.” Not every crime is eligible to be set aside in Arizona. Crimes that are not eligible for setting aside include:
- Dangerous offenses (offenses involving the discharge, use, or the threat of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument, or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another individual.)
- Felony offenses involving a victim who was under the age of 15.
- Offenses where there was a finding of sexual motivation pursuant to section 13-118 - where the defendant committed the crime for the purposes of sexual gratification.
- Sexual offenses where the person is required or ordered by the court to register as a sex offender or for offender monitoring pursuant to section 13-3821.
- Violations of ARS Title 28, Chapter 3, including aggressive driving, criminal speeding, felony flight, and hit and run.
The restoration of rights is a separate process independent of having a conviction set aside.
How Chandler Set Aside Lawyers Can Help Clear Your Criminal Record?
The top reasons why people hire a set-aside lawyer include:
- Future employment opportunities
- Obtaining a professional license in the future
- Attending a university, vocational school, or technical school
- Getting a student loan
- Getting insurance
- Adopting a child or becoming a foster parent
- Possessing a firearm
- Obtaining federal assistance (low-income housing or food stamps)
The process of having a conviction set aside can be much easier, faster, and cost-effective if you have a lawyer specializing in convictions set aside representing you.