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Posted on July 23, 2021 in Arizona Law

What You Need To Know About Expungement in Arizona

In Arizona, expungement provides individuals with the opportunity to clear their criminal records and move past prior convictions that could be impacting various aspects of their lives. Understanding how the process works, who is eligible, and what benefits it provides are vital for anyone considering this as an option for starting fresh.

What Is an Expungement?

An expungement is the removal, sealing, or destroying of a person’s criminal record. In Arizona, qualifying individuals may petition for their records to be expunged, which then legally allows them to present themselves as not having a criminal history for most purposes.

Until 2021, expungement was not an option when managing criminal records in Arizona. The most accessible form of relief for defendants was to set aside a conviction. Unlike actual expungement, where the record is sealed or erased, having a conviction set aside means that the criminal offense stays on your record. There would then be a note attached stating what rehabilitative steps were taken post-conviction, indicating responsible behavior and fulfillment of all legal obligations.

Recent Expungement Laws in Arizona

In July 2021, Arizona passed ARS 36-2862 and ARS 13-911. These measures significantly transformed the landscape of post-conviction relief in Arizona law, aligning it more closely with many other states’ approach to expungements.

Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 36-2862

This statute allows individuals with certain marijuana-related offenses to petition for expungement, including:

  • Offenses involving possessing, consuming, or transporting 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana (with 12.5 or fewer grams being marijuana concentrate).
  • Possessing, transporting, cultivating, or processing no more than six marijuana plants at the individual’s residence for personal use.
  • Possessing, using, or transporting paraphernalia related to marijuana cultivation, processing, manufacture, or consumption.

This recent change excludes offenses related to the sale or distribution of marijuana. To pursue the expungement of a qualifying record in Arizona, you must complete the appropriate forms and submit them to your county’s courthouse. Once filed, the court may schedule a hearing upon request by either you or sometimes prosecutors involved in your case.

During the hearing process, evidence will be examined, and arguments will be heard before the judge makes a decision.

Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 13-911

This law went into effect on January 1, 2023, and significantly expanded the scope of criminal record relief by enabling the sealing of other criminal records rather than the previous limitation of setting aside convictions only.

It applies in the following circumstances:

  • Individuals who have been convicted of a crime and have completed all terms and conditions of their sentence
  • Those who were charged with a criminal offense but had the charges dismissed or they were found not guilty at trial
  • Individuals arrested for a criminal offense but never formally charged

Sealing records enables those affected to avoid the long-term consequences often associated with having a criminal record, such as challenges in employment, housing, and other areas of public life.

Waiting Period for ARS § 13-911 in Arizona

In Arizona, there are waiting periods for an expungement to be filed under ARS § 13-911:

  • Class 2 or Class 3 felony: 10 years
  • Class 4, 5, or 6 felony: 5 years
  • Class 1 misdemeanor: 3 years
  • Lower-grade misdemeanors: 2 years

The waiting period begins after the individual has completed their sentence.

Offenses That Cannot be Expunged in Arizona

In Arizona, not all offenses are eligible for expungement; the state has outlined certain violations that cannot be removed or sealed through the expungement process:

  • Class 1 felonies
  • Serious violent offenses
  • Certain sex crimes
  • Offenses involving the use or display of a deadly weapon
  • Offenses that knowingly cause severe bodily harm to another person

Navigating Arizona’s expungement laws requires a detailed understanding of eligibility criteria and legal procedures.

A Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney at Orent Law Offices Can Help With Expungement

Navigating the expungement process can be complex as you seek to move forward with your life. If you need assistance in seeking expungement in Arizona, an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney can guide you through each step to ensure your petition is filed successfully.

For more information, contact Craig Orent. Give us a call at (480) 656-7301 or visit our law office at 11811 N Tatum Blvd UNIT 3031, Phoenix, AZ 85028. We offer a free case evaluation, so get the help you deserve today.

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