Criminal Record Expungement in Arizona
Mar 15, 2021 09:16 AM EDT
In Arizona, arrests will remain on your record for a minimum of 99 years by default. This is designed to force people to carry the stigma of their past mistakes. Criminal records are inescapable without the help of a competent Arizona attorney. Time has passed, you've learned, you've grown, and you've changed. You deserve a fresh start.
The Heavy Impact of a Criminal Record
A criminal record can make it difficult to get a job, find housing, or travel. You can have an arrest record from 20 years ago that comes back to haunt you every time you try to make positive life changes. Even if you aren't incarcerated, your arrest record will act like a ball and chain that tethers you to things you'd rather not remember. You've paid your debt to society already. You shouldn't have to keep paying every day for the rest of your natural life.
Arizona offers several legal options to people looking to clean up their criminal record. There isn't a one-size fits all solution. Each case is different, and the only way to pursue the best option for you is to speak to an attorney experienced in criminal record expungement. He or she will advise you of your options and help you proceed in the best way possible.
Your Options Regarding Your Criminal Record
Adult arrest records can sometimes be sealed, while juvenile records can be sealed or destroyed. Convictions can be set aside, and some felony convictions can be reduced to misdemeanors. Rights can be restored after a specific period of time, meaning that people with criminal records can be allowed to vote and own firearms.
Expungement and sealing are only options in juvenile cases or wrongful arrest cases. Most people will not be able to utilize this route. If you're dealing with a wrongful arrest case, be sure to pursue all of the options available to you. You can and should file a civil lawsuit and receive compensation.
In most cases, a "set aside" is the best solution. You qualify for a "set aside" if you've completed your sentence in every way. You've served your time, all of your fines are paid, you successfully completed probation, and you've attended any classes or meetings that the court required you to attend.
If you're in good standing, you can be "released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction" which is a fancy way of saying your record will get cleaned up so you can take a job related to health care or education without your employer having access to information about your past.
Set aside essentially negates your conviction. It's still a part of the record, but it will appear as "set aside" or "dismissed", depending on the jurisdiction. It may still appear in a sanitized manner on a background check without any details. You can choose on your own terms how to approach this with potential employers who conduct meticulous background check.
A set side conviction may still come with other requirements. For example, if you are required to register as a sex offender, that never goes away. It doesn't matter if your conviction is set aside.
What About Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Cards?
This also applies to Arizona fingerprint clearance cards. If your profession requires you to have a fingerprint clearance card, you may be revoked or denied based on your criminal record. An attorney can work with you to get something called a "good cause exception", where your card will be reinstated despite your record. This can be done in conjunction with a set aside. It's best to cover all your bases at once.
Should Everyone Get an Expungement or Set Aside?
Everyone with a criminal record should begin the expungement or "set aside" process the moment they are able to. There's no reason to allow anything to remain on your record if you can prove that you successfully completed your sentence. Not everyone will be eligible for a set aside, but there are several other options on the table. At the very least, you may be able to have your felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
The process involves a lot of paperwork and representation by an experienced attorney. Your attorney will speak on your behalf to a judge. If your reason for your request pertains to your education or your career and you can successfully demonstrate that you are a valuable member of society, most judges are happy to accommodate requests in any way they can.
Is This the Same Thing as a Federal Pardon?
A federal pardon is a completely different process. It only applies to federal crimes, and it doesn't seal or expunge your record. If your federal conviction was five or more years ago, you can request a federal pardon with a special petition. Federal pardons are granted by the President of the United States. The process is long, and pardons are rare.
Over Barrack Obama's eight years in office, less than 2,000 federal pardons were granted, averaging 250 a year. Obama pardoned more people than any other president in modern history, coming in second only to Franklin D Roosevelt who served twelve years as president before term limits were instituted. Even still, these presidents responded only to a fraction of people who applied for pardons.
Lawyers can help to prepare petitions for federal pardons, but there is never a guarantee that the president will personally select someone for pardon. It isn't unusual to wait years. The president is often a very busy person.
Finding the Right Attorney
Elias Damianakos is experienced in helping people clear their criminal records. Having worked as a prosecutor in Arizona, he understands both sides of the process very well. He can help you expunge or seal a juvenile record or wrongful arrest. He can get a criminal record set aside for you, or petition for a presidential pardon. All you need to do is contact the Damianakos Law Firm. A great expungement attorney in Arizona can help you start over and live the life you deserve.