Criminal Law: Expungement

When you have a criminal record, even when convicted of only a minor offense,
it can cause a great deal of hardship in your life. A mistake made in your past
should not mean that you have to suffer for it the rest of your life.

A criminal record, even when the conviction is only for a minor offense, can cause a great deal of hardship in your life.

There will come many times when you will be legally obligated to inform people of your criminal record.

This can ruin your chances of getting a job, a loan, an apartment, or even getting accepted into college or an educational program.

Life-wrecking criminal records can often be expunged


An expungement is the erasure or removal of an individual’s criminal record. It can also refer to destroying or sealing a record. Certain people can qualify to have their records erased or removed from public. During this process, a criminal record is removed as if the crime never happened.

While it is not a pardon for committing a crime and it does not remove the conviction, record expungement can effectively erase a criminal record so that it is invisible to employers, landlords, the courts and the general public. Record expungement can give an individual a chance to start over, without the blight of a criminal conviction getting in the way of jobs or housing.

In Arizona, the following "expungement" type of reliefs are available: your criminal record can be "sealed"; a wrongful arrest can be sealed along with a finding from the judget that you never should have been arrested; and your conviction can be set aside. I will review your criminal history and determine what type of relief you are eligible for, and what suits your circumstances and your wallet best. 

If you do qualify, I will immediately file the necessary paperwork to begin the process. In the courtroom, I will present a solid and well-prepared argument to convince the judge to clean up your criminal history from your record


On January 1, 2023, the Arizona legislature enacted a new law (A.R.S. 13-911) which allows a person to file a petition to seal all of their case records related to all criminal offenses. In the simplest of terms, an individual who has been charged with a crime may file a petition to seal their records under certain conditions.

Who is eligible to have their criminal record sealed in Arizona?

According to A.R.S. 13-911, a person may file a petition to seal all case records related to a criminal offense if the person was:

1. Convicted of a criminal offense and has completed all of the terms and conditions of the sentence imposed by the court, including the payment of all monetary obligations and restitution to all victims.

2. Charged with a criminal offense and the charge was subsequently dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict at a trial.

3. Arrested for a criminal offense and no charges were filed.

Once your judgment is sealed, you can answer with confidence to an inquiry relating to an application for employment, that you have not been convicted of a crime. Eligibility in Arizona requires that you have fulfilled the conditions of your probation or sentence and been discharged by the court, that your crime does not fall into a certain category, and that enough time has elapsed since your discharge.


A wrongful arrest is when the State charges you with a crime without legal justification. An arrest record, even when the charges were ultimately dropped, can track you and keep you from getting jobs and can cause enormous embarrassment.

Arizona has a specific statute which allows individuals to have their arrest record not just sealed, but the Court enters specific orders that you should not have been arrested to begin with! This is strongest relief that is available in the State of Arizona.

13-4051: Entry on records; Stipulation; Court order

A.Any person who is wrongfully arrested, indicted or otherwise charged for any crime may petition the superior court for entry on all court records, police records and any other records of any other agency relating to such arrest or indictment a notation that the person has been cleared.

B. After a hearing on the petition, if the judge believes that justice will be served by such entry, the judge shall issue the order requiring the entry that the person has been cleared on such records, with accompanying justification therefor, and shall cause a copy of such order to be delivered to all law enforcement agencies and courts. The order shall further require that all law enforcement agencies and courts shall not release copies of or provide access to such records to any person except on order of the court.


Even if you are not eligible to have your conviction "sealed", I can still often improve your ability to pass a background check by having the conviction set aside.

Eligibility for "setting aside judgment" in Arizona requires at a minimum that you have fulfilled the conditions of your probation or sentence and been discharged by the court. While there are still restrictions related to the type of crime, the majority of felonies and misdemeanors are eligible to be set aside. (I will review your charges during the consultation and immediately determine if you are eligible).

Having your conviction set aside is not the same as having it sealed. But while it does not shield your history from the public eye, there are still benefits to setting aside a record in Arizona: you will have documentation showing that a Court has reviewed your history and is essentially signaling that you have been rehabilitated.

For example, because it demonstrates that an individual has met all of the eligibility requirements (including completing the conditions of a sentence), it can put you in a more favorable position with a landlord, as it shows you are more trustworthy. Also, you will receive a certificate of second chance.

The certificate of second chance says the following:

1. Unless specifically excluded by this section, releases the person from all barriers and disabilities in obtaining an occupational license issued under title 32 that resulted from the conviction if the person is otherwise qualified.

2. Provides an employer of the person with all of the protections that are provided pursuant to section 12-558.03.

3. Provides another person or an entity that provides housing to the person with all of the protections limiting the introduction of evidence that are provided to an employer pursuant to section 12-558.03, subsection B.

4. Is not a recommendation or sponsorship for or a promotion of the person who possesses the certificate of second chance when applying for an occupational license, employment or housing.


ARS 36-2862 states that as of July 12, 2021, anyone who has a criminal record with certain offenses involving marijuana can petition the court to have his or her record expunged. This includes arrests, convictions and other marks on the person’s record connected to certain marijuana crimes.

This new law provides a true expungement, meaning the record will be erased and only visible to law enforcement officers and the courts in specific situations.

The crimes covered by this law are:

  • Possessing, consuming or transporting 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana, of which less than 12.5 grams is marijuana concentrate.
  • Possessing, transporting, cultivating or processing no more than six marijuana plants at the individual’s residence for personal use.
  • Possessing, using or transporting paraphernalia related to the cultivation, processing, manufacture or consumption of marijuana.

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