If you’ve already been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, one of the most challenging aspects of your situation is re-entering your community. As you re-enter your community, it may be exceedingly difficult to find a job, reconnect with friends and family, and to restore your life to the point it was at before your conviction.
Rather than face the struggle of continuing as a member of the community with a conviction, the alternative option is to petition the court to get your conviction set-aside.
The Difference between Expungement and a Judgment Set-Aside
When one is interested in getting a judgment set-aside, it is highly likely that the term “expungement” will also come up. An expungement of a criminal record is when the criminal record is essentially destroyed by the court and is treated as if it never existed. Unfortunately, Arizona does not allow expungement of criminal convictions. The alternative is to petition the court to get your conviction “set-aside.”
Setting aside a conviction is controlled by Arizona Revised Statutes 13-907, which states “Every person convicted of a criminal offense, on fulfillment of the conditions of probation or sentence and discharge by the court, may apply to the judge . . . to have the judgement of guilt set-aside. The convicted person shall be informed of this right at the time of discharge.” Essentially, a conviction that is set-aside is treated as if it has been revoked or cancelled.
Fulfilling the Terms of Your Conviction
Fortunately, Arizona is one of the few states that makes setting aside a record very accessible. If you are interested in setting aside your misdemeanor or felony conviction in Arizona, then you are required to fulfill a number of obligations. According to Arizona Revised Statutes 13-907, the first requirement is to fulfill the requirements of your conviction. For example, if the terms of your conviction were to complete a certain number of hours of community service and to pay a fine, then you would need to complete those hours of community service and to pay the fine before you can apply for your conviction set-aside.
A Petition to the Court
Once you have fulfilled the terms of your conviction, the next step is to have your attorney petition the court to set the conviction aside. When petitioning the court, your attorney will fill out the application and ensure that every term of your conviction has been fulfilled.
Once the court has received and looked over the petition, the court will either approve or deny it. If the court does approve the petition, the courts will set-aside the judgement of guilt. Moreover, all accusations and information will be dismissed. Lastly, the court will also release you from your disabilities and penalties. However, it is vital to keep in mind that this release is limited. There are certain convictions that cannot be fully set-aside from your record.
The Limits of Setting Aside Your Record
Despite being granted a judgment set-aside y the court, there are certain limits to the court’s power. Certain elements of your record cannot be fully set-aside, and therefore, they must be disclosed to anyone who inquires, including employers. Elements of your record that cannot be set-aside include:
- Penalties and disabilities issued by the Department of Transportation
- Any pleadings and disabilities that can be pleaded and proved in a later prosecution
If any of your convictions qualify as a category of one of the above areas, then they still must be disclosed. In addition to these limitations, there are other convictions that the court will not allow to be set-aside.
Offenses that are Ineligible of Being Set-Aside
According to Arizona Revised Statutes 13-904, there are a number of offenses that may not be set-aside in the State of Arizona. The offenses that may not be set-aside include:
- Sexually motivated offenses
- Offenses involving a minor
- Offenses that require you to register under Arizona Revised Statues 13-3821
- Offenses involving serious physical injury; and
- Offenses that involve the use of a deadly weapon
How Long the Process Takes
The process of getting your record set-aside can take time because Arizona courts need to receive and review your petition. Therefore, if you are looking to get your conviction set-aside in a fairly quick manner, than you should talk to your attorney as soon as possible about the matter as soon as possible. Currently, the average processing time for a conviction being set-aside is three to four months, a timeframe which can vary depending on how busy the courts are.
It is also important to realize that the type of court you are petitioning can also have an effect upon the success of your petition. In general, the most difficult court in Arizona to get a conviction set-aside is the Arizona Superior Court. Otherwise, the process and chance of success is fairly high. However, a quality and experienced attorney should be able to achieve a positive outcome, regardless of where the petition is filed.
Background Checks and a Set-Aside Conviction
As you go through the process of getting your conviction set-aside, you should also be aware that your records are not fully erased. That is to say, if someone does perform a background check, your record will show the past conviction. However, the record will also note that the conviction has been set-aside. As a result of the set-aside status of the conviction, those who perform background checks may view your record in a more positive light.
Tyler Allen Law Firm
Getting your conviction set-aside not only restores your ability to find a job and to easily become a member of your community again, but it also restores your civil rights and your reputation. At Tyler Allen Law Firm, our attorneys handle every part of the criminal process – including getting convictions set-aside. If you are interested in getting your own conviction set-aside, reach out today for a consultation. Our experienced team is looking forward to helping you achieve the rights and reputation that you deserve.