Mesa Expungement Lawyer Helping Clients Clear Their Criminal Record in Arizona
Anyone needing a clear background check to take advantage of employment opportunities, housing, education, and other important factors may soon realize that an old conviction will continue to show up on their record for years to come and greatly affect these and many other aspects of their lives, even after they successfully completed their sentence. But how can you stop a bad decision or a mistake you made in the past from haunting you today and in the future? In Arizona, certain offenses can be cleared or expunged from a person’s record as long as certain conditions are met. Our law firm has helped many clients to clear their records through this process and offers a few pointers for those looking to do the same.
Can I Get My Record Expunged in Arizona?
Unlike in other states, Arizona does not have an expungement law; instead, a person convicted of a crime can request a judge to “set aside” a conviction and judgment of guilt. The difference is that the conviction will still show up on a background check, but the employer or person viewing your background check will be able to see that the conviction was set aside because you satisfied all the requirements of your probation and sentence, and thus the court vacated the conviction against you and that your charges have been dismissed.
There are a few special circumstances in which the court may allow corrections to your record. First, if you were at one point wrongfully charged or arrested for a crime and your case ended up being dismissed and charges cleared, you may request the superior court to add a note to your criminal records pointing out that you were cleared. Second, victims of human trafficking charged with prostitution may request the court to vacate that record.
What Are the Requirements to Have a Conviction Set Aside in Arizona?
There are a few factors the courts will use to determine whether someone can have their offense and conviction set aside. These include how long ago the offense and the conviction took place; the type and severity of the offense; what kind of sentence the individual received and whether the individual has fully complied with its terms, and the individual’s overall character and contributions to the community.
You may request for a wide array of convictions to be set aside, from misdemeanors to felonies. It is important to point out that the set-aside process has a few limitations — as explained above, this process will not erase the conviction from your criminal record, and the state may still use set-aside convictions when prosecuting someone for future offenses (if, for example, you commit a second felony after setting aside your first one). This process doesn’t automatically restore a person’s civil rights including the right to vote or own a gun.
Are There Certain Crimes That Cannot Be Set Aside?
Arizona prohibits certain offenses to be set aside, regardless of whether the individual successfully completed their sentence and fulfilled all requirements. Those offenses include crimes in which the victim suffered serious bodily injury, offenses that involved the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, sex crimes that required the individual to register as a sex offender, and an offense in which the victim was under fifteen years of age.
In addition, traffic-related offenses such as driving on a canceled or suspended license and violating a local ordinance related to the operation of a vehicle cannot be set aside either. If you are unsure whether you are eligible for a set-aside request, it may be worth talking to a Mesa expungement attorney to learn your options, as laws may change constantly — as an example, low-level marijuana convictions may now be eligible for a set aside after Proposition 207 was enacted into law.
Do I Need an Attorney to Begin an Expungement Process?
In order to begin the process of having your conviction set aside in Arizona, you are not required to have a lawyer for criminal defense, but it may be in your best interest to work with one. You are essentially trying to convince the judge that you have changed and deserve another chance. You will also need to know how to navigate the multiple steps required for this process.
Typically, you can expect to do a lot of research, and initiate the process by drafting a motion and filling out the necessary forms. You will then need to participate in a hearing with a judge and explain why your conviction should be set aside. This is when working with a seasoned expungement attorney may make the difference in your case. Your attorney can make sure you have met all the eligibility requirements for a set-aside and can be extremely persuasive in convincing the judge to accept your request.
At the Naegle Law Firm, PLC, we have helped many clients get a fresh start and successfully set aside their previous felony or misdemeanor convictions. In some cases, some courts in Arizona may allow for individuals to request a set-aside in as little as six months following the conviction. If you have served your sentence and believe you may be eligible for a set-aside, contact us at our Mesa office at (480) 378-9000 and schedule a consultation. There is no reason you should deal with a lifetime of headaches because of an unfortunate decision or slip-up from the past. Reach out to our legal team to learn your options.