How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in Arizona?: A Comprehensive Guide by Chelle Law
In Arizona, felony convictions generally remain on your criminal record until the age of 99. However, Arizona law provides options for individuals seeking relief from the negative impact of a criminal record. One such option is to request the court to set aside qualifying convictions. Although setting aside a conviction does not completely remove it from your record, it can help alleviate some of the associated consequences and provide evidence of rehabilitation. It is crucial for individuals with felony convictions to understand their options and legal rights, as taking appropriate steps to address their criminal records can significantly improve their future prospects and opportunities.
Having a felony conviction on your record can have a lasting impact on various aspects of your life, such as finding employment, housing, or obtaining professional licenses. In Arizona, understanding how long a felony remains on your record is essential to navigating the challenges it can present. This blog, brought to you by Chelle Law, will discuss the duration of a felony on your record in Arizona, expungement, and steps you can take to minimize the consequences of a felony conviction.
Felony Convictions in Arizona
In Arizona, felonies are divided into six classes, with Class 1 being the most severe and Class 6 being the least severe. The length of time a felony stays on your record depends on various factors, such as the nature of the offense, the class of the felony, and whether you are a repeat offender. Generally, a felony conviction remains on your record indefinitely unless it is expunged or set aside.
Expungement vs. Setting Aside a Conviction in Arizona
Arizona does not have a formal expungement process for adult felony convictions. Instead, the state allows for a conviction to be “set aside” under specific circumstances. Setting aside a conviction is different from expungement, as it does not completely remove the conviction from your record. Instead, it signifies that the court has dismissed the charges, and the conviction is no longer considered a part of your criminal record for most purposes.
Eligibility for Setting Aside a Conviction
Not all felony convictions are eligible to be set aside in Arizona. According to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-907, the following convictions cannot be set aside:
- A dangerous offense involving a deadly weapon or serious injury.
- An offense involving sexual motivation or the use of sexual exploitation.
- An offense where the victim is a minor under 15 years of age.
- A driving violation resulting in serious physical injury or death.
If your conviction does not fall into any of the categories mentioned above, you may be eligible to have it set aside. Factors that the court may consider when determining whether to set aside a conviction include the nature of the offense, your criminal history, and your behavior since the conviction.
Process for Setting Aside a Conviction
To have a felony conviction set aside in Arizona, you must follow these steps:
- Complete all requirements: Ensure you have fulfilled all the terms of your sentence, including probation, community service, and payment of fines or restitution.
- Wait for the required period: There is no specific waiting period to apply for a set aside in Arizona. However, it is crucial to demonstrate that you have made efforts to rehabilitate yourself and avoid further criminal activity.
- File a petition: You will need to file a petition with the court where you were convicted. The petition should include relevant information about your case, your efforts to rehabilitate, and any supporting documentation.
- Attend a hearing: The court may schedule a hearing where the judge will consider your petition. At the hearing, you can present your case and explain why your conviction should be set aside.
- Obtain the court’s decision: If the judge approves your petition, they will issue an order setting aside your conviction. This order will update your criminal record to show that the conviction has been set aside.
Impact of a Set Aside Conviction
While setting aside a conviction does not completely remove it from your record, it can have a positive impact on your life. A set-aside conviction can:
- Improve your chances of finding employment, as many employers view set-aside convictions more favorably than non-set-aside convictions.
- Make it easier for you to obtain housing, as landlords may be more willing to rent to someone with a set-aside conviction.
- Help you qualify for professional licenses that may have been previously denied due to your conviction.
It is essential to note that setting aside a conviction does not restore your civil rights or your right to possess firearms automatically. You will need to apply separately for the restoration of these rights.
Restoring Civil Rights and Firearm Rights
After setting aside a felony conviction in Arizona, you may want to restore your civil rights, such as the right to vote, hold public office, or serve on a jury. In addition, if your conviction involved the loss of your firearm rights, you may want to petition for their restoration. The process for restoring civil and firearm rights generally includes:
- Waiting for the required period: Depending on the class of felony, you must wait a specified period after completing your sentence to apply for the restoration of your rights. For example, for a Class 2 or 3 felony, you must wait two years; for a Class 4, 5, or 6 felony, you must wait one year.
- Filing a petition: You must file a petition with the court where you were convicted or with the superior court in the county where you reside.
- Attending a hearing: If the court schedules a hearing, you must attend and present your case for the restoration of your rights.
- Obtaining the court’s decision: If the judge approves your petition, they will issue an order restoring your civil and/or firearm rights.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Navigating the process of setting aside a conviction or restoring your rights can be complex. It is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney, such as those at Chelle Law, to guide you through the process and improve your chances of success.
- Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-907 – Learn more about the statute governing setting aside convictions in Arizona.
- Arizona Judicial Branch – Setting Aside a Conviction – Access forms and resources related to setting aside a conviction in Arizona.
While a felony conviction can have a lasting impact on your life, Arizona provides options for setting aside a conviction and restoring your civil and firearm rights under specific circumstances. By understanding the process and working with an experienced attorney, you can take steps to minimize the consequences of a felony conviction and move forward with your life. Chelle Law is well-versed in Scottsdale criminal defense representation, making them the ideal choice when facing criminal charges.