Everyone deserves a second chance. If you’ve made a mistake that led to your arrest and conviction, it may still be possible for you to avoid the harm of having a permanent criminal record. Although expungement is not possible in Arizona, the state has other programs that allow first-time offenders to have a decent shot at living a normal life.
If you are a first-time offender and you’ve served your sentence, then you should make inquiries into getting a clean slate. You should hire an experienced lawyer to handle your case. But, before you begin the process, you should have some facts at your command.
Here is a list of answers to frequently asked questions about the expungement and set aside process in Arizona.
– Expungement is the destruction or permanent eradication of a criminal record. This cannot be done in Arizona, regardless of how minor the offense.
– A set aside seals your criminal record from basic background checks. If an employer conducts such a check, your criminal conviction will show up as dismissed in the public record. Even if a prospective employer tries to go deeper in their search, they will only see that you had a prior conviction. They will learn nothing about its details.
– In an expungement, the public record of your conviction is wiped clean. It’s as though you were never arrested and convicted of an offense. In a set aside, a public record of your conviction exists, but the record will also show that the judgment was vacated and an order of dismissal entered.
– The law allows a person convicted of a felony or misdemeanor to request a set aside under certain circumstances. In your application, you can use language such as “vacate charges” or “dismiss charges”. However, it’s best to consult with an attorney and to have them formulate the exact language of the request.
If the court approves the request, it will set aside the judgment of guilt. The court will dismiss the accusations or the document that charges a person with a crime. The court will then order the person to be released from all penalties and disabilities mandated by the conviction.
The only exception to this last are penalties and disabilities imposed by the Department of Transportation.
In Arizona, expungement has the same meaning as set aside. Your conviction will not be destroyed. The protection of the public is the reason most often cited for preserving criminal records. They can be used to deny persons convicted of crimes certain kinds of employment, licenses, permits, and other qualifications. A criminal record can also be used against the same person in future criminal cases.
– If you have been convicted of a felony, obtaining a set aside can release you from most penalties and disabilities that result from it. The public record will indicate that you have successfully completed all court requirements and that the court has dismissed the charges. When seeking employment and housing, you will be able to move past transgressions and focus on more positive attributes about your life and qualifications.
If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor, the gains are not so great because the restrictions, penalties, and disabilities are fewer. Nowadays, a misdemeanor does not carry the stigma of a felony. However, a misdemeanor drug conviction can hamper your ability to get a job. Obtaining a set aside can remove this obstacle and allow you to get on with your life.
There are a great many benefits to having your criminal record set aside—especially in the realm of employment. However, even if you are granted this judgment, you must disclose your conviction on an employment application. You must also report your conviction if asked during a job interview. On your application and in your interview, you can add that your conviction has been set aside and the charges against you dismissed. The court uses the same language, and it will show up in the public record when your prospective employer carries out a background check.
Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor is eligible for a set aside. Many felony convicts are also eligible for this judgment. A set aside is not available to persons convicted offenses involving:
The serious physical injury of another person:
Approval for a set aside is not a sure thing. Even first-time offenders can be rejected. You should hire an attorney before you submit your application. The lawyer you work with should have extensive knowledge and experience in set aside cases.
If you have done your time and you are eligible for a set aside, you want to do everything in your power to obtain this judgment. There is no room for mistakes. Obtaining a set aside is a highly technical process. You must meet very specific criteria, and you must submit an application that contains all the information a judge will require to make a final decision. Your chances for having your application approved will be significantly increased if you hire a lawyer. The law does not require you to have one, but it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel.
The first is the application itself. You must be precise and exact in the language of your request. Judges expect an articulate, well-reasoned, and evidence-backed argument for your request. In other words, a thoroughly professional product. A lawyer is the only one who can turn out this kind of document.
You may also encounter resistance from the prosecutor’s office. Although most prosecutors are more interested in repeat offenders and high-profile cases, you never know if your case will come up on their radar. You cannot go up against such a prosecutor alone. You will need a legal professional to represent you.
If the crime you committed affected someone else, you may find that they have the ear of the district attorney who in turn may take a special interest in your case. Although set asides are granted by judges, the latter can be influenced by a determined and aggressive prosecutor. You need someone who is able to argue competently and vigorously for your interests.
If you have been convicted of a felony, your right to vote, to hold public office, to serve on a jury, and to own a firearm will all be suspended. These are basic civil rights that you will probably want restored after you have done your time. You may be able to get these rights restored if you have been discharged from probation and it has been at least two years since your discharge from prison. The laws concerning the restoration of these right vary. At present, Arizona courts do not have the authority to set aside conviction or restore gun rights to persons convicted of a felony crime in federal court.
Society is changing and the laws along with them. Criminal justice reform is on the agenda in many states and local communities, including those in Arizona. Many private companies have taken the initiative to give non-violent, first-time offenders a second chance by giving less weight to their criminal convictions. However, for those who have not caught up with the times, your attorney can help prepare you to answer questions about the exact meaning of a set aside. Your lawyer can provide you with all the documentation you need to demonstrate that the charges against you have been dismissed and that the conviction has been vacated. This will give you the chance to make a new beginning and to start living a normal life.
If you believe you are eligible for a set aside, then you should contact the Law Offices of Gary L. Rohlwing. They can help you explore your options.