Clearing your (criminal) history: Arizona’s new records sealing law
By JohnEdgett on Nov 29, 2022
One of the most common questions you hear as a criminal defense attorney is “Will this stay on my record?”, or “How do I get this off my record?” It’s easy to see why this question comes up so often. As you may know (and as we will talk about more in future posts), a criminal conviction -or even simply being arrested by the police- can carry a lot of long-term consequences for your life. It can affect your ability to apply for a job or rent an apartment, for example.
People often ask about getting a past criminal conviction “expunged” or getting their records sealed. However, except for very limited circumstances, people in Arizona have not traditionally had access to a process like that. Instead, the best that a person could hope for was to have a conviction “set aside,” and/or to have their civil rights restored. Often, that meant that information about the person’s case was still publicly available if someone knew where to look.
In July 2021, Senate Bill 1294 (SB1294) was signed into law, and it will finally take effect this New Year’s Eve. Starting on December 31, 2022, people with a prior arrest, criminal charge, or conviction in Arizona will have a new opportunity to clean up their records.
The new law is already on the books: A.R.S. § 13-911 and can be found here: https://www.azleg.gov/viewdocument/?docName=https://www.azleg.gov/ars/13/00911.htm
The new law allows people with many types of criminal convictions, arrests, or charges to apply to the Court to have all their case records sealed. If the Court grants the request, the Court records AND police records related to the case will be sealed and only certain governmental agencies, (or the victim of the case) will be able to access them in the future.
Further, unless some exceptions apply, a person who successfully asks the Court to seal their records may be able to truthfully answer “no,” when they are asked about whether they’ve ever been arrested, charged, or convicted for that crime on, certain types of employment or other applications.
It’s important to note that this new law does not apply to everyone. People who were convicted of certain crimes or types of crimes may not be eligible for relief. If you have a prior arrest, charge or conviction and would like to find out if you are eligible to use this new Arizona law to help clear up your criminal record, contact the Law Office of John Edgett today.