Expunging and sealing your criminal record in Arizona
A criminal record is a list of all contacts you may have with the criminal justice system, be it federal or state level. These contacts may be charges, convictions, jail time, prison time, acquittals, and more. A criminal record can stay with you your entire life, and it can create impediments to accessing employment, housing, professional licenses, or other services. However, there is a potential to either expunge or seal your criminal record, which can provide new opportunities for you.
Who Can Access Your Criminal Record?
Anyone in the public can potentially access your criminal record. Criminal record reports are compiled in an FBI RAP sheet, a state RAP sheet and by private companies who create and sell criminal record reports. Employers and landlords most commonly access criminal records with the intention of “vetting” potential employees or renters in what is commonly known as a background check. With prevalent societal bias against people who are accused and convicted of crimes, employers and landlords will commonly reject applicants that have what they would consider to be a substantial criminal record.
How Can a Criminal Record Harm You?
- Other than employment or renting opportunities being diminished, a criminal record has a myriad of other negative effects. These include:
- Problems with college admission
- Firearm ownership
- Adopting children
- Child custody
- Ability to drive
- The right to vote
As is evident, many of your basic rights and privileges are under fire once you have a criminal record. There is considerable momentum around the country to limit the effects of having a criminal record. Currently, criminal records can cause multi-generational poverty due to how damaging they are to a person’s life.
Sealing or Expunging a Criminal Record
There are several ways to mitigate the effects of criminal records. The two routes available under Arizona law are sealing and expungement.
A new Arizona law has come into effect starting January 1, 2023, which allows eligible criminal records to be sealed. This means that the records will be hidden from the public, but criminal justice agencies and certain employers will still be able to access them. Any case against you not resulting in a conviction can be sealed. Additionally, most felonies and misdemeanors which have had their sentence served may be sealed. The only exceptions are generally dangerous and harmful felonies such as causing serious physical injury with a deadly weapon.
Expungement is simpler. There is only one category of crime that can be expunged which is low-level marijuana convictions which occurred before November 30, 2020. When Prop. 207 passed in 2020 which legalized recreational marijuana it also included a section which allows people convicted of lesser marijuana related offenses to expunge their criminal records. Expungement erases the criminal record from existence, so it is preferred to sealing whenever possible. Litwak Law Group’s criminal defense attorneys pride themselves on fighting aggressively and professionally for the constitutional rights and freedoms of their clients. Should you be charged with a crime in Arizona, contact Litwak Law Group today.