Having a criminal record can be one of the most debilitating things to have to deal with. Despite the fact that your criminal actions were in the past and you’ve long since grown past them, they still manage to make it difficult for you to find employment or housing because of your criminal record. Don’t you wish there was something you could do about it?
In certain circumstances, there are. Getting a conviction expunged is a hard thing to do, mostly because many convictions simply cannot be. However, those that occurred while you were young are the easiest to have expunged. We’ll discuss these in the section below before moving on to discuss how crimes of a sexual nature function differently when it comes to expungement. Finally, we’ll talk about setting aside crimes which for many is the option that is most likely to be available for them.
When Can a Record Be Expunged?
Arizona doesn’t really have a specific law dealing with expunging records in the way that other states do. The closest thing it has to this would be the laws relating to setting aside a conviction. This is a different process than expunging a record.
However, there is at least one Arizona law that mentions the expungement of records in specific cases. This would be ARS 13-921. This section of the law covers issues relating to juvenile crimes. It informs us that a person who is less than 18 years of age but has been tried as an adult, or an individual who is over the age of 18 but was tried for an offense when they were under the age of 18, just might be able to have their record entirely expunged.
However, the individual in question has to meet a list of strict criteria:
- The individual in question was under the age of 18 at the time the offense was committed
- The offense in question is a felony and not a misdemeanor
- The individual in question was not imprisoned as part of their sentencing
- This is the individual’s first brush with felony convictions
- The individual in question was sure to complete any and all terms and conditions attached to their probation such as not getting in further trouble or attending certain awareness or training classes
It’s great news that there is something that can be done to help juveniles, but this path to expungement clearly doesn’t benefit older individuals. We’ll address that concern in a moment, but first let’s look at how sexual crimes are treated differently when it comes expungement.
Can Sexual Crimes Be Expunged?
To deal with crimes of a sexual nature we need to leave ARS 13-921 behind and instead talk about ARS 13-923. This section of Arizona Revised Statutes tells us that a person who is under the age of 22, who has been convicted of an offense that happened while they were under the age of 18 and thus had to register as an offender, has the legal right to request a probation hearing at least once a year.
This probation hearing will determine whether or not to continue as things were, to modify the probation, or to terminate it. This could mean having your sex-offender registration terminated, no longer having to inform the community about your status, and finding peace.
However, this process can be quite intimidating because at the hearing along with the attorneys, prosecutor, and probation officers, could be the victim. They are allowed to attend and this can be unsettling for some.
What Does It Mean To Set Aside a Conviction?
So setting aside a conviction is a bit of an odd thing because it isn’t as widely used as expungement is. However, it is how Arizona has decided to approach the topic of cleaning up people’s criminal records and so it’s the system that you’ll likely have to use.
Essentially, this system works by asking the convicting agency to set aside the conviction after you have completed your sentence. So you absolutely must complete the sentence to be able to set aside a conviction, so this isn’t a shortcut to a shorter sentence or anything like that.
After you have completed your sentence for a misdemeanor conviction, you can ask the agency that convicted you to set aside the sentence and what this does is remove the conviction from your record while keeping your procedural history intact. So when somebody would look up your record, it would still show the charge but it would state that the guilty status had been set aside or dismissed.
However, there are a number of elements that if present in your crime would restrict you from proceeding with setting the conviction aside. Use of a deadly weapon, sex crimes, crimes that are committed against children, and crimes that result in sever injury or death cannot be set aside.
If your crime has one of these features then you simply will not be able to get the conviction removed from your criminal record in this way and there really aren’t any other avenues that are going to be helpful either.
Should I Work With an Attorney?
Working with an attorney is optional but recommended. You can track down the various forms and paperwork that needs to be completed and consult with online sources to get a good understanding of what needs to be done. But the problem with this is that many sources online are outdated or written by people with little understanding of the law producing content for lawyer’s websites.
It’s always better to speak with an attorney personally and tell them all the facts about your case. They’ll be able to help you figure out what can be done and how to go about it. But more importantly, they’ll be able to help you through any parts of the process that trip you up or give you issues so that everything moves forward as easily as possible.