Unlike many other states, Arizona does not have an expungement law on the books. That means that once you are convicted of a crime, that crime will stay on your record forever. Fortunately, that’s not the end. Arizona law provides for those convicted of certain crimes to apply to have their conviction set aside.
What does a set aside do?
If granted, such a petition sets aside the judgment of guilt. This means that you are no longer guilty of the offense that you were convicted of. The charging instrument, be it a complaint, information, or an indictment is dismissed. That means that you can truthfully say that the charges were dismissed. Finally, you are ordered released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction with few exceptions related to the Motor Vehicle Division and the game and fish commission. A set aside updates your criminal history with an annotation that the conviction has been set aside.
What does a set aside not do?
A set aside does not mean that the government can’t use the offense as a prior conviction to enhance sentencing in the future. It does not mean that it cannot be used against you in trial if it otherwise could be. It does not mean that it cannot be alleged as an element of an offense, e.g. prohibited possessor without gun rights restored. A set aside does not redact or remove any part of your criminal history.
Am I eligible for a set aside?
If you fulfilled all of the conditions of your probation or sentence and been discharged by the court then you may apply to have your sentence set aside, so long as the conviction is not (1) a dangerous offense; (2) one for which you have to register as a sex offender; (3) one in which there has been a finding of sexual motivation; (4) one in which the victim is a minor under the age of 15; (5) for certain motor vehicle offenses.
So should I bother to apply for a set aside?
If you are eligible then you should absolutely apply for a set aside. A set aside helps you control the appearance of your criminal record and allows you to truthfully explain that your case was dismissed. If you are considering a set aside for your conviction then call the attorneys at AZ Defenders today at 480-500-1222 for a free consultation. We will review the facts of your case with you and together find the best approach to getting a set aside granted for you.