Conviction Set Aside in Arizona
You were found guilty of a crime and you dealt with the consequences. Going back to normal life in the aftermath of such a situation can be difficult. This happens because you have a criminal record that’s public.
In Arizona, the expungement or destruction of a criminal record is not possible.
The one thing you can attempt to do is to have your criminal conviction set aside by the court.
What Does It Mean to Have a Conviction Set Aside
When you petition the court to set aside your criminal conviction, the court may agree to set aside the records as if you’ve never pleaded guilty or you’ve never been found guilty. In essence, your criminal record will no longer be publicly available and it’s not going to appear in background checks.
Keep in mind, however, that the record is not destroyed. Law enforcement professionals still have access to it.
Who Can Apply to Have Their Criminal Record Set Aside
You need to meet certain conditions in order to be deemed a good candidate for the application.
People who have committed certain types of crimes are ineligible for this opportunity. The set aside becomes unavailable whenever you’ve been previously found guilty of:
- A violent crime
- A crime involving a victim under the age of 15
- A crime that necessitates sex offender registration
- Some types of driving offenses
- A crime that involves sexual motivation
You can find more information about the qualification requirements in A.R.S. 13-907.
To apply for set aside, you also need to fulfill the requirements of your conviction, whether you have to serve prison time, pay a fine or do a specific number of community service hours.
After all the conviction requirements have been fulfilled, you can submit a petition to set your conviction aside. The court could either approve or deny the petition. If it gets approved, the set aside becomes valid immediately.
The Set Aside Procedure Comes with Its Limitations
While the set aside procedure could be one of the ways to get your life back, it does have certain limitations.
As already mentioned, your criminal record is not going to be destroyed.
An arrest, for example, cannot be dismissed. Thus, the arrest leading to the conviction may be visible to an employer and you will have to explain the specifics of the situation regardless of the effective set aside.
It’s also very important to understand that those who commit additional criminal offenses in the future will be affected by the conviction that was set aside. The court will have access to that information and to the evidence.
People who get their set aside petition approved by an Arizona court are not going to have their civil rights fully and automatically restored. A separate petition process will have to be completed to restore one’s right to vote and to own a handgun.
Click here to find the form to set aside a conviction in Arizona.
Additional Bits and Pieces
The set aside process may take some time. If you are interested in this procedure, contact your lawyer and get started as soon as possible. Statistics show that the average processing time for set aside petitions in Arizona right now is three months. The timeframe will vary depending on the business of the court.
You have to take this period in consideration, especially if you plant to apply for a job or initiate another major life change in the near future.
While the chances of set aside success are fairly high if you qualify, there is still a possibility of denial. This can happen if your petition isn’t filled out and presented in the correct way. Attempting to handle the process on your own may lead to mistakes, which is why you should definitely leave it to a professional.
Click here to find out what is racketeering as defined under Arizona law.