Expungement vs. Sealing of Records - Are they the same?
I have a confession to tell you. I lied.
I told you that you could get your Arizona criminal record expunged in 2023, but that is not precisely true. But you can still get your record sealed.
Did I confuse you yet?
The reason is that in Arizona, the legal definition of expungement slightly differs from the standard or common law definition.
Expungement under the standard law definition means to have your record sealed. And that is precisely what the new law does. It orders the criminal conviction to be sealed and not available to the public or government criminal background checks. You can even legally tell people you don't have any prior convictions. Something that would previously bar you from some jobs, getting a place to rent, or possibly taking away your 2nd amendment rights.
But In Arizona, expungement not only means getting your record sealed but also making it ineligible to be used in any future prosecution.
Let's say you got in trouble again, and you had your record sealed. Under the new law, the public will no longer view the case, but the prosecutor could still use that prior record against you to ratchet up the consequences as they have always been able to. If you get a DUI, for example, and then get another a couple of years later, the prosecutor could use that prior DUI conviction against you, even if the prior was “sealed.”
The only type of criminal case now that can be legally “expunged” in Arizona are personal marijuana offenses, and those cases can never be used against you to increase penalties for future crimes.
Does this matter to you? Probably not, but this is the sort of thing that lawyers like to pick apart, and we think is interesting. I even debated whether I should bother telling you this on this webpage and risk confusing or discouraging you from getting your record sealed. But still, it's the type of thing I would go over with you during a consultation. I figured I should go ahead and share this tidbit of information now because I want you to be informed and understand the benefits and maybe the cons, even if it is very slight and doesn't mean anything to you.
The thing is that I always want to be honest and transparent. The attorneys at the firm and I always tell it like it is and give you the information straight. And the truth is that I think everyone can benefit from having their record sealed, and I want you to have your record sealed too.
Can you get your record sealed?
Should you still get your record sealed?
The answer to both these questions is YES.
I would like to personally discuss your case and circumstances with you The first step is to schedule an appointment with me to discuss how we can go about and do it. Just use this link and schedule a time to speak with me.
I hope to hear from you soon.