What Does Having A Record Expunged Actually Mean?
In Arizona we really don’t have expungement. The equivalent is what we call set aside. Expungement is what people traditionally think of it in a lot of other states, where you have a conviction of some kind, and filing some kind of motion in court to have that conviction expunged, or removed, from their criminal record—essentially deleting a record of that conviction. In Arizona, it doesn’t quite work the same way.
Does Having A Record Sealed Fall Into The Same Realm Of Processes?
Having a record sealed is not exactly the same. You can have certain parts of a criminal proceeding sealed, for privacy issues or safety issues. It could be the result of some type of medical documents, or personal private information that may be necessary in a case, but that is not necessarily appropriate for public record. For these reasons, certain parts of a case or a file can be sealed. A lot of times in Arizona we see it with underage victims and/or defendants, as they have a higher right to privacy. Much of their information will be protected, so those parts of a file, or an entire case, can be sealed.
What Are The Top Misconceptions That People Have About Having A Record Set Aside?
When it comes to setting a record aside in Arizona, the biggest misconception is that people can have their criminal record expunged, sealed, removed, or deleted, and they really can’t. Additionally, many people don’t understand that even if you were able to expunge or set aside a conviction, that the record of an original charge being filed or an arrest being made in the case, those are things that typically can’t be sealed or removed from any type of record. It so often depends on the type of background checks or criminal history checks that are being run by potential employers or government agencies, as to how much information is actually on them. Even expunging or setting aside a conviction doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire record of the incident in any way, shape, or form should be removed.
Who Is Eligible To File For Having A Record Set Aside In Arizona?
In Arizona, the only thing you can file to have set aside is whatever the penalty was, for whatever you were convicted of or pled guilty to. Whatever that was, whether it was probation, jail, prison, fines, fees, probation fees, counseling, community service, any number of requirements that were a part of the penalty, they all have to be completed, every last one of them. Every last payment has to be made and every last requirement has to be fulfilled, before you can ask a judge to set aside a conviction.
What Sort Of Specific Penalties Or Charges Does Setting Aside A Record Apply To?
The easiest types of offenses to set aside are where you start at the bottom like civil traffic offenses, or civil offenses. Those are the types of things that go on your driving record. Here in Arizona, 12 months after you’ve accumulated whatever offense you have, those will fall off your driving record as points or offenses. As you move up into criminal offenses, misdemeanors are a bit easier to set aside, and typically this requires a short motion be filed with the court that says you did everything. The judge will confirm it, and maybe even grant the motion without a hearing, so those are easier to set aside. When it comes to felonies, they can be set aside by a comprehensive motion outlining that certain requirements have been met, and there are good legal grounds to do it.
Those motions have to be filed under some sort of judge. Even after they review the file or the motion, they set a hearing on the matter so that both the state and the defense can provide their input as to why they think it is or isn’t appropriate, and then the judge will decide from there.
Are There Any Charges Or Records That Are Automatically Set Aside After A Period Of Time?
There are no charges or records that are automatically set aside after a certain period of time. We only have some interesting diversion options here in Arizona, called post-plea diversion, and filed under Statute 9-500.22. Essentially, you plead guilty to something, but the conviction is not entered on your record. You are given some time typically here to complete certain requirements, much like probation. There can be classes, community service, fines, and things like that, and even some jail time, occasionally. If you complete everything successfully, then the court will dismiss the case at the end of the term. Even though you pled guilty upfront, the case is automatically dismissed upon compliance and the end of the time period. However, if you don’t complete everything, and you violate any of those conditions, they might find that conviction will be automatically entered just like if you had pled guilty to it in open court. There are a few times when it can automatically get dismissed if you do what you are supposed to do, but it’s not really setting it aside, it’s just making sure that it’s never actually in your record.
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