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Posted on November 27, 2020 in Criminal Defense

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

In addition to jail time and possible fines, one of the most painful parts of a misdemeanor conviction is the fact that it stains your “record.” Having even a simple misdemeanor on your criminal record can haunt you for years as you apply for job and housing opportunities.

In many states, if a person convicted of a crime wants to later erase that crime from their record, they can seek what is called an expungement. An expungement erases or seals a person’s criminal record, making it seem as though the conviction never happened. For those who have been denied a job they were perfect for simply because of something stupid they did when they were young knows, an expungement is a powerful tool.

Not every person, or crime, is eligible for expungement, however. Eligibility for expungement could depend on:

  • How much time has passed since the conviction
  • The severity of the crime that was committed
  • Whether or not the person seeking the expungement has had any other arrests or convictions

If an individual meets the criteria for expungement in their jurisdiction, they can usually file a petition for expungement to get the process started.

Is Expungement Possible in Arizona?

Unlike many other states, Arizona does not have an expungement provision or law. Once a person is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, that conviction stays on their record until they are 99 years old.

In Arizona, however, you can have your conviction, or judgment of guilt, “set aside.” Setting aside your judgment is similar to expungement, though there are key differences. For example, even after getting your judgment set aside, your misdemeanor or felony will still show up on background checks. However, it will be noted that the judgment has been set aside.

What Do You Have to Do to Get Your Judgement of Guilt Set Aside

Just as there are certain criteria that need to be met in order to apply for an expungement, you can only hope to have your judgment set aside under certain circumstances. When applying to have your judgment set aside, the judge will consider:

  • Whether or not you met all the requirements of your probation and probationary period
  • The severity of the crime you committed
  • How much time has elapsed since the crime was committed
  • Whether or not you had prior convictions or subsequent convictions
  • Whether you were a juvenile or an adult when you committed the crime

Obviously, those whose crimes were lighter and haven’t shown a pattern of recidivism are more likely to have their judgment set aside. It is also more likely to happen if you were a juvenile when you committed the crime.

The Benefits of Getting Your Judgement of Guilt Set Aside

Even though your misdemeanor will still show up on background checks, the “set aside” designation will generally make it easier to get the type of job you are looking for. It also shows that you were willing to take the initiative and complete the process of having your judgment set aside, something that also looks good to potential employers.

There are other benefits too, like having an easier time applying for housing. Essentially, with the words “set aside” on your record, it shows those who care to look that a judge deemed your misdemeanor paid for and moved on from.

While the benefits of having your judgment of guilt set aside are plain enough, the process of doing so can be somewhat complex. To increase your chances of having your misdemeanor set aside, it would be wise to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. In addition to defending clients who have yet to be convicted, a good criminal defense attorney will help walk you through the process of setting your misdemeanor aside.

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