With regard to expungements or set asides, one common question I get is how to do it in other states. While I practice law exclusively in Arizona, there are some great resources out there that can assist you in your search. Of course, I recommend hiring competent counsel who focus on expungements or set asides so that your case will go as smoothly as possible. I also recommend that you hire counsel that practices exclusively in your state and is not a “client mill” because there are nuances to each state’s laws and the best approach to be successful. But in the course of your due diligence research on the subject, there is a brand new website that just launched that’s absolutely fantastic.

It highlights the law across the country and provides helpful legal resources. But it’s more than that. The website provides books, articles, reports, and other studies across the country to raise public awareness about the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. It’s an incredibly helpful resources to practicing attorneys and the public. The name of the website is the Collateral Consequences Resource Center (CCRC) and you can find it here.

With respect to the mission of the website, Margie Love provided this statement:

…We hope it will fill a growing need for information and advice about the modern phenomenon of mass conviction and the second-class citizenship it perpetuates.

The legal system is only beginning to confront the fact that an increasing number of Americans have a criminal record, and the status of being a convicted person has broad legal effects.  The importance of collateral consequences to the criminal justice system is illustrated by cases like Padilla v. Kentucky (2010), holding that defense counsel have a Sixth Amendment obligation to advise clients about the possibility of deportation.  Civil lawyers too are mounting successful constitutional challenges to harsh consequences like lifetime sex offender registration, categorical employment disqualification, and permanent firearms dispossession, which linger long after the court-imposed sentence has been served.  Government officials have tended to regard collateral consequences primarily as a law enforcement problem involving the thousands leaving prison each year, but they are now considering how to deal with the lifetime of discrimination facing the millions who have long since left the justice system behind.  Advocates are pointing out how counterproductive and unfair most mandatory collateral consequences are, and legislatures are paying attention.  People with a record are organizing to promote change.

The time is right to launch the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, which will bring together in a single forum all of these diverse interests and issues.  The Center’s goal is to foster public discussion and disseminate information about what has been called the “secret sentence.”  Through its website the Center will provide news and commentary about developments in courts and legislatures, curate practice and advocacy resources, and provide information about how to obtain relief from collateral consequences in various jurisdictions.  The Center aims to reach a broad audience of lawyers and other criminal justice practitioners, judges, scholars, researchers, policymakers, legislators, as well as those most directly affected by the consequences of conviction…

You can find resources directly related to Arizona here. As always, if you’ve been convicted of a crime, don’t wait to mitigate the collateral consequences. While Arizona’s expungement system isn’t perfect, it’s the best we’ve got for the moment. We’ll continue to fight for a fairer process. Websites like CCRC are a massive undertaking that will assist legislatures across the country to rethink the class system we’ve built by the overuse and dissemination of criminal convictions. One bad choice shouldn’t follow us for the rest of our lives. People change. The law should reflect that.