How Record Sealing in Arizona Can Change Your Future

by | Legal information

Last year, Arizona courts enacted a first-of-its-kind law. Before 2021, people in Arizona convicted of a crime were unable to seal their records. This made employment opportunities, educational opportunities, and housing opportunities difficult for Arizonans who had blemishes hidden in their pasts. Now, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-911 will give people the ability to be judged for who they are today, rather than who they were before. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Record Sealing?

 Record sealing is the process by which someone’s criminal record is barred from public access. The information won’t show up on a background check, and it can’t be accessed by a private investigator. It is different from having a criminal record “set aside or expunged”The information stays under lock and key unless a court order allows an authority access to that record. Some government agencies, like child protective services, will have access to relevant records.

What You Need to Know About Arizona’s First Conviction Sealing Statute

 Before Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-911, Arizona was on a very short list of states that didn’t allow for record sealing. It was the only state that didn’t grant itself authority to seal non-conviction records, like general arrests. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-911 gives detailed guidelines for what types of convictions can be sealed and when they’re eligible to be sealed.

By utilizing this process, people will be able to clean up their record and make their past indiscretions invisible. It allows people who have paid their debts to truly live as free without a millstone of their mistakes around their necks. If you’ve previously been arrested or convicted of a felony, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-911 may be able to help you build a future on a clean slate.


What Type of Convictions Can Be Sealed?

The majority of convictions can be sealed in Arizona, with the exception of a few more serious crimes:

  • First degree murder
  • Some violent offenses

There is no maximum number of convictions that can be sealed, and there is no maximum number of times that someone can request to have their record sealed. As long as they meet the eligibility criteria, a person is able to file as many record sealing petitions as they’d like.

Who is Eligible to Have Their Convictions Sealed?

 Some crimes, like sex offenses against children and murder, can never be sealed. For all other crimes, there’s a simple process to follow.

 You need to complete all the terms of your sentence in order to have your convictions sealed. You must serve your sentence (and/or complete your probation), pay all fines owed to the court, and pay all restitution. Once you’ve met all the terms, you’ll begin a waiting period. After the waiting period, you can petition to have your record sealed.

  • Class 2 and 3 felonies – 10 years after discharge
  • Class 4, 5 and 6 felonies – 5 years after discharge
  • Class 1 misdemeanor – 3 years after discharge
  • Low grade misdemeanors – 2 years after discharge


Can Non-Conviction Records Be Sealed?

 Beginning in 2003, non-conviction records can be sealed. This means that people who were arrested but not convicted can have their records locked away. People who were acquitted or dismissed are also eligible.

How Does the Sealing Process Work?

The sealing process will work just about the same for conviction records and non-conviction records. People with non-conviction records are less likely to encounter obstacles along the way. People with convictions that involve a victim will likely have the toughest time, particularly if the victim chooses to exercise their victim’s rights.

 When the new law becomes effective on January 1, 2023, you may petition the court to have your record sealed. If applicable, victims of crimes who have requested notice will be informed that you’ve petitioned the court.

 There will be a waiting period of 30 days. During this time, victims can request the opportunity to be heard by the court. Prosecutors can also object to the request. If both the victim and the prosecutor don’t have any objections, the process can continue.

 If an objection is made, the objecting party will be heard before the court. The court will decide how to proceed from there. The court can agree or disagree with the prosecutor or the victim. You’ll be informed of the court’s decision.

 If the process moves forward from that point, the court will request more information about you. The court will ask the Department of Public Safety to gather all of your records. The totality of your records will be assessed. If the court denies your petition based on your history, you need to wait 3 years to file another petition. If the court finds that sealing your conviction doesn’t pose a threat to public safety, they will grant the petition.

What Happens After The Petition is Granted?

 After the petition is granted, the Department of Public Safety handles the rest. It’s their job to inform all other agencies that your record is sealed. Most of the time, you’ll be able to legally state that you have never been arrested on any official forms you fill out, like job applications or rental applications.

 There are a few legal exceptions for sealed records that may affect employment opportunities. For example, someone convicted of a crime relating to burglarizing a residence won’t be able to hide that charge from an employer who hires workers to enter other people’s houses. You’ll be informed of the exceptions by the court if they apply to you.


Do I Need a Lawyer?

 You may not need a lawyer to petition the court to seal your record, but having a lawyer definitely helps. This is especially true if there was a victim involved in your crime or if you’re looking to seal multiple convictions simultaneously.

If you need some help preparing your petition, contact Elias Damianakos. As a former prosecutor, Elias Damianakos understands exactly what the court is looking for. He’s able to recognize any objections a prosecutor might have. Contact the Damianakos Law Firm if you need some assistance petitioning the court.

24/7 Phones Answered Collect Calls from Jail also Accepted. 
177 N. Church Ave. 85701

Click to Call

Elias Damianakos Criminal Defense Attorney

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

    9.8Elias Damianakos