Unlike other states, Arizona does not have an expungement law to clear a person’s criminal record. However, you may be able to get your record of conviction set aside under our state’s Set Aside Conviction law. This can help you reduce some of the long-term consequences of a permanent criminal record.
What Is a Set Aside Conviction?
When a criminal record is expunged, the expungement is erased from the individual’s personal criminal record. However, this would not occur under Arizona’s Set Aside Conviction law.
Under ARS §13-905, a person can ask the court to set aside prior convictions and be released from the penalties of the previous conviction once they successfully complete their sentence. If their request is granted, the individual will receive a Certificate of Second Chance. This would allow them to apply for jobs, licenses, and housing that they may be otherwise ineligible for due to their conviction.
The conviction would still be a part of the person’s criminal record, but it would be marked as completed. In addition, the conviction set aside would still have to be reported as a conviction on an employment application.
Qualifications for a Set Aside Conviction
A person can request a conviction be set aside for many misdemeanor or felony convictions in Arizona. To qualify for a Set Aside Conviction, they must meet these requirements:
- Completion of the sentence. An individual must have successfully completed all the terms of their sentence. This includes serving any jail or prison sentence, completing their probation, and paying any fines and court costs.
- Eligible conviction. The person’s conviction must not be excluded under the Set Aside Conviction law.
- Factors. The judge must consider a number of factors when deciding whether someone is eligible to have their conviction set aside.
Offenses Excluded Under Arizona’s Set Aside Conviction Law
There are a number of criminal convictions that are not eligible to be set aside. They include:
- Driving on a suspended license
- Criminal speeding, felony flight, aggressive driving, and hit and run driving
- Convictions involving the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
- Convictions that cause great bodily harm
- Convictions requiring registration as a set offender or registration for offender monitoring
- Convictions that involve a finding of sexual motivation
- Convictions involving a minor who is under 15 years old
Factors to Be Considered When Deciding a Request to Set Aside a Conviction
There are a number of factors that the judge must consider when deciding whether to set aside a conviction. Here are factors the court would look at:
- Nature and circumstances of the crime the individual was convicted of committing
- Their compliance with the conditions of their sentence and probation
- Prior criminal convictions
- Input of the victim of the offense and whether restitution was paid as required
- Length of time that has passed since the competition of the person’s sentence
- Individual’s age when they were convicted
- Any other relevant factors
Benefits of a Set Aside Conviction
Although it could be better to obtain a true expungement, there are benefits to having a conviction set aside. Some of the ways it can help include:
- Employment. Even though the conviction would still have to be disclosed on a job application, employers are more likely to favorably view the conviction if it has been set aside on the applicant’s criminal record.
- Professional licenses. A person may need to have a conviction set aside to qualify for a professional license.
- Housing. Having a conviction set aside can help someone be approved to rent a house or apartment or qualify for a mortgage to purchase a home.
- Child custody. A conviction’s impact on child custody may be lessened if it has been set aside.
- Civil rights. An individual’s civil rights would be restored once their request for their conviction to be set aside is granted.
- Fingerprint clearance. Under Arizona law, individuals in certain professions must have an active fingerprint clearance card to be licensed, certified, or employed. Having a conviction set aside before requesting this clearance card may be helpful.
Are you considering requesting that a conviction be set aside in Northern Arizona or Flagstaff? Do you have questions about your eligibility to obtain a conviction set aside? Our experienced criminal defense lawyers are here to help. Order our free book, Accused of a Crime in Arizona: What Happens Next Is Up to You. Then contact us online or call our office at 928-226-0165 to schedule our free consultation today.