For those who have been convicted of a crime and exhausted all forms of appeal and post-conviction claims, a set-aside is likely the only option left. Arizona does not offer the possibility of an “expungement” of criminal convictions, as is available in many other states. When a conviction is expunged, it is effectively wiped off the record as if the crime was never committed.
A set-aside, on the other hand, allows the crime to remain on one’s record but will be marked with a notation that the judge has set aside the judgment of guilt. Unlike expungement, the full benefits of a criminal set-aside require someone previously convicted to remain crime free. If one commits a new offense, the state may still use the set-aside conviction against them.
There are still several potential benefits to pursuing a set-aside. A person whose conviction has been set aside is no longer a “convict” and no longer stands convicted of a criminal offense. While an employer may still ask if a person has “ever been” convicted of a crime, Arizona leaders are considering changes in the law that would prevent employers from finding out in the initial application process whether set-aside convictions exist in the applicant’s record.
Apart from potential employment benefits, a set-aside can often come with other benefits, such as restoring one’s right to vote and possess a firearm or improving an immigrant’s possibilities in immigration court.
Set-asides are available to most convicted persons who have completed their sentence, any probation term and paid all fines, fees, and restitution.
In the State of Arizona, a criminal conviction can lead to classes, costs, and confinement – and that’s just the beginning. A conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. More than a skeleton in your closet, a conviction is a matter of public record easily located online by anyone who wants to find it. A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony offense can create barriers to employment and limit other opportunities for personal and professional advancement. Convictions can also reduce your rights as an American citizen. These include losing the right to vote and losing the right to own a firearm. It can be challenging piecing things together following a conviction. The good news is, you may be able to get a fresh start.
Expungements and Set-Asides
Getting a conviction in Arizona can be too easy. Many people who never considered themselves to be criminals have convictions in their past. Fortunately, they may be able to move forward. In Arizona, the courts allow what is referred to as a ‘set-aside.’ Many people are familiar with the term ‘expungement.’ An expungement essentially eliminates the criminal conviction from the record. In Arizona, the courts do not allow for expungements. Instead, the State of Arizona uses a different process. Convicted individuals may be able to apply to have their conviction set aside.
Like an expungement, a set aside grants offenders a chance to remove the shackles of a conviction, not by treating the conviction as if it never existed, but instead by releasing you from the penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction. A set aside effectively declares that you are not a criminal. A set aside reinstates your civil rights and can include reinstatement of your rights to possess a weapon.
Not all cases are eligible for set-asides, but a great many convictions qualify. To find out for sure if your case is eligible to be set aside, contact an Arizona criminal defense lawyer.
Eligibility for Set-Asides in Arizona
Many misdemeanor convictions are eligible for set-asides in Arizona. In some cases, felony convictions may be available for qualifying petitioners. To become eligible for set-aside offenders must meet the following criteria:
- The entire jail or prison sentence must be served.
- Probation, if ordered, must be successfully completed.
- All classes, counseling, and/or treatment must be completed.
Additionally, the petitioner must take care to avoid new convictions. In some cases, the criminal conviction can prevent the offender from restoring their rights or having their conviction set aside. These include convictions in which:
- The crime involved a child under the age of 15
- The crime was sexually motivated
- The crime involved the use of a weapon
- The crime caused serious physical injury
- A driver with a suspended or revoked driver’s license commits a moving violation.
Offenders with more than one felony are typically ineligible for set-asides. To regain the right to possess a firearm will require further action with the court controlling your case. If you think you may be eligible or want to check and see, speak to a lawyer. Our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys will personally help you file your petition and fight to regain your rights.
Arizona Restoration of Rights Attorney
Obtaining a set aside is also referred to as a restoration of rights – for good reason. A set aside can remove the weight of a conviction allowing for opportunities once thought sacrificed forever. Set-asides are detailed court filings which, if filed incorrectly, may lead to application denial. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, don’t let it follow you around for the rest of your life. File for a set aside with the aid of a skilled defense lawyer and help regain your rights – and your pride.
For help clearing criminal convictions from your path call the Tait & Hall Law office today. They offer clients one-on-one care to ensure they achieve the best possible outcomes with their set-asides. She also regularly assists clients with the reinstatement of driving privileges and other rights as representation during administrative hearings.
Click HERE to schedule a free consultation. Give your future the best chance for success with the help of an aggressive Arizona restoration of rights attorney on your side.
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