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How Can I Get My Criminal Records Sealed in Arizona?

Posted on December 6, 2018 in General

To have the courts seal a criminal record in Arizona, defendants must seek a set-aside judgment. For individuals living with a criminal record, the thought of having that record sealed or expunged is likely a lifetime goal with the potential to open up countless opportunities.

However, Arizona does not have a program in place for having the court expunge or seal a criminal record. The state does have a program for setting aside convictions. The courts determine these on a case-by-case basis. They aim to free reformed criminals from the constraints of their former convictions.

If you are looking to get your criminal record sealed, speak to one of our qualified criminal defense lawyers in Scottsdale today.

What is a Set Aside?

A set aside decree does not erase or eliminate a past conviction. However, it does enter an addendum to the individual’s permanent record beside the crime in question that notes that the courts have set it aside. This is particularly useful in scenarios such as applying for a job or a lease. The individual may still have to disclose the conviction of a crime, but he or she can also explain (and prove) that the court has set it aside. The positive impacts of a set aside have tangible applications, but they are also emotionally beneficial for former criminals who want to leave the past behind.

Who is Eligible for a Set Aside?

The type and severity of some crimes excludes them from being set aside.

  • A person who committed a crime involving a serious bodily injury to the victim is ineligible.
  • A person who committed a crime involving the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon is ineligible.
  • A person who committed a crime resulting in registration as a sex offender is ineligible.
  • A person who committed a crime against a minor 15 years of age or less is ineligible.
  • A person who committed a crime in violation of certain local ordinances is ineligible.

Does a Set Aside Restore an Individual’s Civil Rights?

In some criminal convictions, the individual temporarily loses certain civil rights, such as voting, holding public office, serving on a jury, or owning firearms. Typically, a person gets back his or her civil rights at the time that their prison sentence is complete. However, if the courts do not automatically return them (due to the nature of the crime or a systematic issue) the individual can, at any time, apply to have them returned separately from the set aside. However, it is possible to apply for a set aside and a restoration of civil rights simultaneously, so that the courts review all the requests at once. Civil rights requests sometimes include gun rights, but not always. They can apply for gun rights separately, as well.

Can Crimes Committed in Another State Be Set Aside?

Unfortunately, the state of Arizona cannot set aside crimes committed in other states. However, many other states have similar programs or can expunge crimes. The individual may appeal to that state with the hope of a similar outcome to the set aside program. In fact, the outcome may be even more favorable in other states that offer criminal record sealing and expunging. Each state takes a different approach to expunging – some less so than Arizona, and some more so.