You did your crime and you did your time. Now what? Many criminal offenders know all too well that the stigma of a criminal conviction will follow them. In most states, procedures are in place to allow a prior criminal conviction to be expunged. Unfortunately in Arizona, expungement is only available in very few limited circumstances for individuals wrongly accused and for offenses committed under the age of 18. There is however a legal procedure to have the criminal conviction dismissed and set aside.
What is the difference between expungement and having a criminal conviction dismissed? An expungement proceeding basically results in a court order sealing all records of a criminal conviction. All court documents and arrest records are ordered sealed. It's like the criminal conviction never even happened. If you committed a crime in Arizona, this remedy is not available. In Arizona, a prior conviction can be “set aside” pursuant to A.R.S. 13-905.
When a court sets aside a conviction it dismisses the conviction, the penalties are dismissed and disabilities are vacated. The record of the prior conviction remains but the court record will also note that the conviction has been “set aside”. The record will show that you completed all the requirements of your conviction (fines, jail, restitution, community work service), that the court vacated the judgment and dismissed the charges.
If the record of the conviction is not sealed why would you want to make the effort to get your criminal conviction set aside? If you have the means to reduce the negative impact and stigma of a criminal conviction, then it is worth the efforts. If an employer or any other individual verifies your background information or court record the history of the prior conviction will remain but the order dismissing the case and setting aside the conviction will also appear. An order setting aside a criminal conviction is available for both misdemeanor and felony convictions.
The Law Office of Shawn B. Hamp is focused to defending DUI, drug and criminal charges in Arizona, within Northwestern Arizona and Mohave County including the cities of Kingman, Bullhead City, and Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
This post was intended to provide general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice. You should not rely upon this information alone, but should consult legal counsel regarding the application of the laws and regulations discussed and as applied to your specific case or circumstances.