Expungement or Set Aside

Where are Arizona’s laws about expungement and setting aside a conviction?

Arizona does not have an ‘expungement’ statute.  The laws about setting aside a conviction are found in A.R.S. §§ 13-904 – 912 . A.R.S. § 13-907  permits a person convicted of a felony to request a "set aside" of a felony conviction under certain circumstances. The statutes use the term “set aside the judgment.” An application to have your conviction set aside may use the language “vacate judgment and dismiss charges.” In this situation, “setting aside a conviction,” means the same thing as “vacating judgment and dismissing the charges.”

What does a criminal record show when a conviction is set aside or expunged?

The law does not require that a conviction be removed from a person’s criminal record. It is required that the record show that the conviction has been set aside. When a conviction is set aside in Arizona, a records check will probably show the original charge and conviction. However, it should also show that the judgment was vacated and that an order of dismissal was entered.

What are the benefits having a misdemeanor conviction set aside?

For someone convicted of a misdemeanor, the benefits of a set aside are less than for a felony because misdemeanor convictions do not impose the same restrictions on constitutional rights that a felony does. In addition, a misdemeanor does not carry the same stigma in the community as a felony conviction. Further, there may not be the same barriers to employment and housing. However, some misdemeanor convictions, such as drug convictions, can present obstacles to employment and housing so a set aside may be helpful.

Who might be able to have a misdemeanor conviction set aside in Arizona?

If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor in a Justice or City Court and successfully completes all court orders, that person might be eligible to have the conviction set aside.

A set aside is not available to a person convicted of a criminal offense:

  • Involving the infliction of serious physical injury,
  • Involving the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument,
  • For which the person is required or ordered by the court to register as a sex offender, A.R.S. § 13-3821,
  • For which there has been a finding of sexual motivation under A.R.S. § 13-118
  •  In which the victim is a minor under 15 years of age, or
  • In violation of A.R.S. § 28-3473, any local ordinance relating to stopping, standing or operation of a vehicle or title 28, chapter 3, except a violation of §28-693 or any local ordinance relating to the same subject matter as A.R.S. § 28-693.