Posted on November 27, 2020 in Criminal Defense
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:
If an individual meets the criteria for expungement in their jurisdiction, they can usually file a petition for expungement to get the process started.
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.
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:
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.
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.