What is expungement in Arizona?

In Arizona, you may be eligible to expunge, meaning completely destroy or seal your criminal record, but only in limited circumstances. Generally, the vehicle to clear one’s record in Arizona is a motion to set aside the conviction. A set aside has many benefits and definitely worth doing if you’ve been convicted of a crime but it will not destroy or seal your record. The confusion is that the term expugement is used synonymously with set aside. This is because each state has its own laws and use different terms. There are also websites that attempt to be a “one size fits all” expungement mill. However, the attorneys are often out of state and do not focus on Arizona law so they misuse the term (intentionally or mistakenly). This only adds to the confusion. Unfortunately, some attorneys will play on this confusion to create false hope that an expungement is possible when it’s not. The follow are circumstances where you might be able to completely expunge your record:

Clearance of Records:

For some, a clearance of record may be possible. If you were wrongfully arrested, indicted or charged with a crime, you can petition the Superior Court for a total clearance of records. 1 This would be a true “expungement” in Arizona. In fact, an agency that fails to comply with the court order to clear your records could be liable to you for civil damages  To be fair, these causes of action are rare but are possible under the right circumstances. The usual candidate for this is someone who can prove the allegations against them were false. Except in extremely rare circumstances, you must be found not guilty at trial or have charges against you dismissed to even be eligible to apply.

Destruction of Records:

The other exception to the no expungement rule in Arizona is for juveniles. If you were convicted of a felony as a juvenile (adjudicated delinquent), you’ve paid all the fines, fees and restitution, and successfully completed all conditions of juvenile probation or were successfully discharged from the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, you may be eligible to destroy those records once you’re 18 or 25 years-old depending on the type of offense.

Eligibility for destruction of records:

You will not qualify for a destruction of records if you were subsequently convicted of or have a pending felony in adult court. Also, if you were adjudicated delinquent for certain serious offenses or a DUI, you also won’t be eligible until you’re 25. 2 If ineligible for a destruction of records, juveniles may still be able to set aside their convictions and restore their civil rights in adult court. In rare circumstances, a juvenile may be eligible for destruction of records even if tried as an adult if you were sentenced to probation. This exception is usually litigation intensive but can be done.

Miscellaneous: Correction of Records, DPS Fingerprint Clearance, Administrative Agencies:

We want to do everything we can to get your life back on track. We’ll assist you with getting your Arizona Department of Public Safety fingerprint clearance card back where possible. For more information on how to correct any mistakes in your criminal record or how to apply to get your fingerprint clearance card back, review the Arizona DPS website here.  We’ll also assist in appearing before licensing boards or administrative agencies. You worked hard for your career and we’ll do all we can to help you get it back.

It’s time for a fresh start:

If you’re looking for a fresh start and are trying to either set aside or completely expunge your record, give us a call. I’ve had numerous successes and I absolutely love this part of my job. I take great pleasure in helping others get back up after they’ve been knocked down. I detest the fact that our criminal justice system labels people without regard to who they really are and that those labels cause so much collateral damage to those who need help getting back on their feet. I’ll assist you in getting back on the saddle again. Removing the scarlet letter of conviction and restoring dignity is important to me. Even if you’ve tried a set aside or expungement before and failed, come and see me. I find that a little elbow grease up front gets the job done right and saves you hassle later. It’s never worth it to take shortcuts because the faster you can clear your record, the better.