Expunge Criminal Record

Last Modified: July 17, 2024
By: James HansenJuly 8, 2024 |
Expunge criminal record: what to know

Expungement involves obtaining a court order to remove your conviction from public record, giving you a fresh start. Once your record is sealed, it will no longer be visible to employers, landlords, or anyone conducting a background check, providing you with new opportunities and peace of mind.

At Genesis DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyers, we understand the importance of having your criminal record sealed.

If you were not aware that you could request expungement even after an arrest occurred, reach out to us. Our team is here to guide you through the expungement process and help you regain your future.

What is Expungement?

Expungement is the legal process of clearing a criminal record. When it is said a record is deleted, it is now hidden from public records or any other. Having your record cleared can be critical for employment, housing, and other areas where a clean record is valued or required.

Eligibility for Expungement in Arizona

Eligibility for expungement in Arizona

Under Arizona's new expungement law, certain convictions can be expunged if a specific criteria is met. If you qualify, your conviction can be removed from your record and sealed from public access.

Who Can Apply for Expungement?

To apply for expungement, you must meet certain criteria set by Arizona law. The individuals who can apply for expungement generally include:

  1. Those arrested but not charged or whose charges were dismissed.
  2. Individuals with certain eligible convictions, especially non-violent or non-serious offenses.
  3. First-time offenders.
  4. Those who have completed all terms of their sentence (probation, parole, fines, restitution, and community service).
  5. Individuals with certain drug-related offenses under specific conditions.
  6. Juveniles seek to expunge their juvenile records upon reaching adulthood.

Certain serious offenses, like violent or sexual crimes, may not be eligible for expungement. Always consult legal authorities or a lawyer for specific eligibility criteria. Our law firm can help determine your eligibility to clear your arrest record.

The Expungement Process in Arizona

The expungement process in Arizona

Applying for expungement involves several key steps. First, speak with a criminal defense lawyer to understand your eligibility and the process. A lawyer can provide valuable insights and increase your chances of success.

If you are eligible for expungement, collect all necessary documents, including court records, proof of sentence completion, and any evidence of rehabilitation. Submit a formal petition to the court that handled your case. This petition should clearly state why you qualify for expungement.

You should ensure that all relevant parties, such as the district attorney, are served with a copy of your petition. This step is important for the court to consider your request.

Preparing to attend a court hearing to present your case is also important. Your lawyer can represent you and help make a compelling argument. If approved, your record will be deleted, giving you a fresh start.

Personal and Professional Advantages

Having your record expunged can lead to serious personal and professional advantages. It may be easier to secure a job or promotion. Housing applications are less likely to be denied due to a criminal record. Additionally, expungement can improve your social standing and personal relationships.

Limitations and Restrictions of Expungement

While expungement offers many benefits, it also has limitations. Not all crimes are eligible for expungement, especially violent offenses. Certain government agencies may still have access to your expunged record.

Excludes from expungement eligibility those convicted of sexual offenses, domestic violence, driving under the influence, and individuals convicted of a felony at the same time as a misdemeanor offense. It's important to understand these limitations before applying for expungement.

What Expungement Does Not Do

Expungement doesn't entirely erase all of your criminal history. Some government agencies, like law enforcement, can still access your expunged records. It also does not restore any lost civil rights, such as the right to own a firearm.

How Much Does Expungement Cost?

Cost of expungement

The cost of expungement can vary. There are filing fees, legal fees, and possible court costs. Budgeting for these expenses and understanding the financial commitment involved is important. Generally, the fees associated with filing for expungement might include:

  1. Filing Fee: This can range from $0 to $300, depending on the county and the type of expungement.
  2. Attorney Fees: If you choose to hire an attorney, their fees can vary widely, typically ranging from $500 to $1,500 or more, depending on the complexity of the case and the attorney's rates.
  3. Additional Costs: Additional costs for obtaining necessary documents, such as certified copies of court records, can add up to $50 to $100.

Genesis DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyers can provide a detailed breakdown of costs and help you plan accordingly.

Filing a Petition to Seal Criminal Records

Under certain conditions, a person could file a petition to seal all case records related to a criminal offense. These include completing all terms of a sentence, paying all monetary obligations and restitution to victims, having charges dismissed, or being found not guilty.

The petition must be filed in the court where the person was convicted, charges were dismissed, or the person had an initial appearance if no charges were filed. If the case was handled in multiple courts, the petition should be filed in the superior court.  

The court will review the petition and decide whether to grant or deny it, typically after a 30-day waiting period unless all parties agree to the petition.

Impact of Expungement on Criminal Records

Impact of expungement on criminal records

Expungement can seriously impact your criminal record. Here are some key points:

  • Improved employment prospects: Expunged records do not appear on most background checks, making it easier to find a job.
  • Enhanced housing opportunities: Landlords are less likely to reject your application without a criminal record.
  • Educational benefits: Expungement can improve your chances of acceptance into educational programs.
  • Social reputation: Clearing your record can restore your reputation and relationships.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing your past mistakes are not easily accessible can provide relief and confidence.

Sealed vs. Expunged Records

It's important to distinguish between sealed and expunged records. Sealed records are hidden from public view but still exist within the legal system. Expunged records will then be treated as if they never happened or came to be.

Common Misconceptions about Expungement

Several misconceptions about expungement exist. Some people think it's an automatic process but require a legal petition. Others believe expungement clears all types of records, which is not true. It's important to get accurate information from reliable sources.

The court may issue an order, including a certificate of second chance, if the judgment is set aside, releasing the person from penalties and disabilities from the conviction.

However, the set-aside conviction can still be used in specific legal contexts, such as being admissible in future prosecutions, used as a prior conviction, or for motor vehicle license regulations.

The court must notify the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which will update the person's criminal history with the set-aside status and certificate issuance but will not remove any record details.

Expungement and Employment

Expungement can greatly enhance your employment opportunities. Employers usually do background checks; a clean record can improve your chances. Many employers take the chance of hiring people with deleted records, which can open doors to better job prospects and career advancement.

Legal Support for Expungement

Legal support is essential for a successful expungement. A criminal defense attorney will guide you through the process to get to know your case better and help you get it away from public knowledge.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can make the expungement process smoother. A lawyer can help you understand your eligibility, gather the necessary documents, and represent you in court. We have the experience to assist you effectively in expunging criminal records.

Changes in Arizona Law

Arizona laws regarding expungement have recently changed. Beginning January 1, 2024, individuals convicted of a misdemeanor can petition the court for expungement three years after completing their probation or sentence, provided they meet all other required criteria.

These changes offer new opportunities for those seeking to clear their records. It's important to stay informed about these changes and how they may affect your case.

Expunge Your Record with a Criminal Defense Attorney

Expunge your record with a criminal defense attorney

Expunging your record can provide a new beginning and open up many opportunities. At Genesis DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping you through this process. Our legal team will guide you every step of the way, ensuring you understand your rights and options.

Contact us today to discuss your case and start the expungement process. Let us help you achieve the fresh start you deserve.

James Hansen
21321 E Ocotillo Rd Suite 125, Queen Creek, AZ 85142

Genesis DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyers - Peoria AZ Office

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