For a long period, Arizona was the only state in the country that did not allow for the expungement or sealing of criminal records. However, Arizona recently put landmark legislation in place allowing for records to be sealed (a similar process to expungement) which went into effect at the start of 2023. This allows cases to be removed from public access and allows the individual to attest that they have never been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of the specific crime that was sealed for the purposes of securing employment, housing, loans, and more.
Mandatory Criteria to Seal Criminal Records
Under the law, A.R.S. 13-911, the following criteria must be met in order to have a criminal record sealed. The person seeking to have their record sealed must have been:
- Convicted of a criminal offense and has completed all of the terms and conditions of the sentence that was imposed by the court, including the payment of all monetary obligations and restitution to all victims.
- Charged with a criminal offense and the charge was subsequently dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict at a trial.
- Arrested for a criminal offense and no charges were filed.
Exceptions to a Sealed Record
Even though your criminal record is sealed, it can still affect you under very limited circumstances. All sealed criminal records may be:
- Alleged as an element of an offense.
- Used as a historical prior felony conviction.
- Admissible for impeaching any party or witness in a subsequent trial.
- Used to enhance the sentence for a subsequent felony.
- Used to enhance the sentence pursuant to sections 28-1381 and 28-1382.
- Pleaded and proved in any subsequent prosecution of the person by this state or a political subdivision of this state.
- Used as a conviction if the conviction would be admissible if the conviction was not sealed.
When Can I Have My Record Sealed?
Under the law, a certain amount of time must elapse before a criminal record may be sealed. The waiting period begins as soon as an individual completes their sentence and varies depending on the type and severity of the offense. For class 2 or 3 felonies, there is a waiting period of 10 years. For class 4, 5, or 6 felonies, there is a waiting period of 5 years. For class 1 misdemeanors, the waiting period is 3 years and for lower-grade misdemeanors, 2 years have to elapse before an individual may have their record sealed. If the individual has a prior felony conviction on their record, they must wait an additional five years on top of the statute-specified waiting period.
What Crimes Can’t Be Sealed?
Under the new legislation, certain crimes can never be sealed. These include class 1 felonies, serious violent crimes, specific sexual offenses, crimes involving a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, and crimes wherein the offender knowingly inflicted serious bodily injury on another person.
A Comprehensive Criminal Law Practice in Yuma
If you are seeking to have your criminal record sealed or are unsure of whether or not you qualify to have your records sealed, it’s important you consult an experienced criminal law attorney. Proudly serving the people of Yuma, San Luiz, Somerton, and beyond, the skilled team at Territorial Law Attorneys have 20 years of combined criminal defense experience fighting for our clients’ rights. We pride ourselves on being a client-centric firm, putting our clients and their rights first and providing diligent, effective representation with sensitivity and compassion. We also have a robust practice in personal injury law. Contact us for a consultation. As always, it’s free and confidential. Let us start fighting for you, your rights, and your future.