A conviction for a crime can make life difficult – you may find it harder to get a job, secure housing or get access to things that are available to people without a criminal record.
But a conviction doesn’t have to lead to a lifetime of stress. In Arizona, you can have your judgment set aside – “expungement” is only available to juveniles and charged for which you weren’t actually convicted – which prevents public access to most of your record.
If you have a judgment set aside, basic background checks will not see the conviction on your record, and even more detailed an in-depth checks will reveal that you’ve had the judgment set aside. In either case, you’re able to legally check on applications and paperwork that you have not been convicted of a crime in Arizona.
Which Judgments Can Be Set Aside?
Nearly all types of criminal offenses can be expunged, including felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile crimes. When you’ve completed the sentence for your offense, you’ll be notified that you have the right to apply to have your judgment set aside.
There are only a few types of offenses that cannot be set aside, and those include crimes involving:
- Dangerous offenses (causing intentional physical injury)
- Victims under the age of 15
- Offenses done with sexual motivation
- Driving a vehicle with a suspended license
If your conviction doesn’t fall into one of these categories, you have the right to have your judgment set aside. But before you apply, you must meet additional criteria as outlined by the Arizona Revised Statutes.
Steps to Getting Your Judgment Set Aside
First, you must wait two years before requesting your judgment be set aside. In those two years, and since the crime itself, you must have a clean criminal record. One of the most important factors in your case will be your risk to become a repeat offender, so additional charges will decrease your chances of having your judgment set aside.
Next, you must have completed all the terms of your sentence. This may include prison time, fees and surcharges, rehabilitation classes, and other court-mandated activities. If you’ve successfully completed your sentence, you’ll want to have proof and documentation that will hold up in court.
You can now fill out the application to have your judgment set aside. You’ll work with the same court that handled your case, and you will have to appear in court in order to show your documentation and go through the process.
Is a Lawyer Necessary to Set Aside Your Judgment?
A lawyer isn’t necessary to apply to have your judgment set aside. Because it is such a detailed and paperwork-intensive process, however, it is highly recommended that you seek legal help before submitting your application.
If your documentation doesn’t meet the requirements of the court, your request may be denied and your conviction will stay on your record. By hiring a lawyer, you’ll be able to build a stronger case and have a better chance at getting your application approved.
2023 Update: Get Your Record Sealed
As of January 1, 2023, individuals that have been arrested, convicted or sentenced in the State of Arizona may petition the courts to seal their records.
Following the enactment of A.R.S § 13.911, you may be eligible to seal your arrest record. Due to this groundbreaking new law, when an individual has their criminal record sealed, the records relating to the crime are hidden from public records, and no one may view the contents without a court order.
When a record is sealed, employers, landlords, and schools that run a background check will not come up with any record of your criminal conduct.
We may be able to help you if you were:
- Convicted of a criminal offense and has completed all of the terms and conditions of the sentence imposed by the court, including the payment of all monetary obligations and restitution to all victims.
- Charged with a criminal offense and the charge was subsequently dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict at a trial.
- Arrested for a criminal offense and no charges were filed.
All case records that are sealed pursuant to this section may be:
- Alleged as an element of an offense.
- Used as a historical prior felony conviction.
- Admissible for impeaching any party or witness in a subsequent trial.
- Used to enhance the sentence for a subsequent felony.
- Used to enhance the sentence pursuant to sections 28-1381 and 28-1382.
- Pleaded and proved in any subsequent prosecution of the person by this state or a political subdivision of this state.
- Used as a conviction if the conviction would be admissible if the conviction was not sealed.
If you are unsure whether or not you meet the criteria to have your record sealed, contact the criminal defense team at JacksonWhite. Our criminal defense team has years of experience defending their clients’ rights, and they offer free case reviews to answer any questions you may have.
Do You Need Your Conviction Set Aside?
If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you know firsthand how much it affects all aspects of your life. At JacksonWhite Law, we know how much of a difference it can make in your life to get a judgment set aside, so we offer the best legal counsel available for expungements.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.