Unfortunately, Arizona is one of the few states that does not allow for the possibility of expungement. While it does have other programs by which first-time offenders can gain a second chance, the legal system of the state is not authorized to permanently destroy any criminal record, regardless of how minor the offense.
What Is a Set Aside?
Having a record sealed or set aside has benefits similar to expungement but not quite to the extent of permanent eradication. While Arizona does not provide a process for expunging records, it does allow for individuals to petition to have their criminal records sealed from basic background checks. This is known as having a judgment set aside. When a record is set aside, the criminal conviction will not appear in the public records. Even if a detailed background check is conducted, the record will show the existence of a prior conviction without details of the crime committed. Furthermore, the record will show that the court granted the petition to have the judgment set aside.
The implications of having a DUI conviction set aside are very similar to actual expungement. People who have successfully obtained a set aside generally have an easier time finding jobs and obtaining ownership privileges, along with the restoration of many other freedoms previously restricted because of their criminal history.
It is important to note that there are a number of DUI-related offenses that cannot be set aside under any circumstances. Aggravated DUI, such as DUI with injury and child endangerment, will not be granted pardon. Furthermore, since the "second chance" principle is for first offenders to start over, the existence of prior DUI or criminal offense will disqualify an individual from having their petition granted.
Can I Have My DUI Record Erased in Phoenix?
The answer to this question depends heavily on the nature of your charges. As mentioned before, felony crimes and first-degree misdemeanors, including any type of aggravated DUI, will not be granted any kind of pardon. Having a record set aside in Arizona is intended to provide first-time offenders with a new chance to vindicate themselves. Therefore, repeat offenders of DUI are unlikely to be granted the petition to have their conviction record sealed. If your DUI conviction was for a nonviolent, first-time offense, you have a good chance of being granted the petition.
In order to request a hearing to have your record set aside, you must first fully complete the sentence ordered by the court upon your initial conviction. This includes jail time, license suspension and restrictions, payment of court and jail fees, and participation in court-mandated substance counseling. Furthermore, you must not have any additional criminal charges added to your record between three months and six years from the date of your first DUI.
If your situation meets these requirements, you and your Phoenix DUI attorney can file a form with the Arizona Superior Court requesting a hearing to have your record set aside. The form will be accompanied by documented proof that you have carried out the terms of your sentence fully and that your prior criminal history does not disqualify you from having your petition granted. If the court decides to set aside your record, the conviction will no longer appear on basic background checks and will simply show a dismissed conviction in the event of a more detailed background check.
Learn More About Avoiding DUI Penalties
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We handle cases throughout Arizona, including Phoenix and Scottsdale.