Expungement in Arizona

Introduction to Expungement in Arizona

At some point in most people’s lives, there is a moment when you think “I hope this doesn’t stay on my permanent record”. When it comes to a criminal conviction, or even arrest and charge, those instances can remain on your record permanently. This means it will show up during a background check for a job or school application, which could decreases your chances at either. It could also affect your ability to adopt a child. One way to ensure that a specific incident does not show up on your permanent record is to have expungement in Arizona.

What is Expungement

Expungement is the legal process through which an arrest or conviction may be erased from a person’s criminal record.i Law enforcement agencies will still have access to these records, but through expungement, you can keep your record clean in the eyes of employers, schools, and the general public.ii Every state has their own process for expunging a record, and every state has a general list of what type of records can be expunged.

The legal effects of expungement will mean that your records have been “sealed” or “erased” from a person’s criminal record.iii Once a record has been expunged, there is usually no need to disclose this information to a future employer or school.iv If a background check is run, the expunged information will no longer show up.v

Even though people often refer to expunged records as being sealed, sealing records can sometimes have a different legal affect than complete expungement.vi Sealing your records means that the general public can no longer search for these records, however, these records can still be recovered by private investigators, credits, and employers.vii Since these records still exist in the criminal justice system generally, the record will be considered a prior offense if you are arrested in the future.viii If having your record sealed is your only option, at least it will prevent the general public from viewing the information.

The Expungement Process

The expungement process will vary depending on the state where the arrest, charge, or conviction took place.ix Regardless of this, there is generally certain standards that must be met in order for a record to be considered for expungement. Those requirements include:

  • The amount of time that has passed since the arrest or conviction;
  • The severity and nature of the event for which expungement is sought;
  • The applicant’s complete criminal record (including arrests or convictions in all jurisdictions, not just the state or county where the current record is in);
  • The severity and nature of other events in the applicant’s criminal record.x

Depending on the state or county where the record is, there may be special eligibility rules if the arrests or convictions occurred while the offender was a minor, or if the arrests or convictions were sex offenses.xi Typically if the record is a sex offense, the offender will be subject to certain registration or reporting requirements.xii In California, if an offender expunges their record, that contained a sex offense, the offender will have to then file a separate application to remove any registration or reporting requirements.xiii

expungement in ArizonaNow, the process itself will typically begin with an application to the court to review expungement of the offenders record.xiv The name of the application will vary from state to state. For example, in Utah the courts refer to the application as “expungement as records”, while California refers to the application as “cleaning your record with a dismissal”.xv There will be a checklist of what is required of the offender, including what documents are needed to file.xvi The offender should be able to retrieve everything from the county prosecutor’s office.xvii In some jurisdictions, the offender will need permission from that prosecutor’s office to even apply for expungement.xviii

If the offender’s record is expunged, then the court will issue an order of expungement, which will then need to be served on other agencies to ensure that the offender’s records are expunged with that agency as well.xix The agencies that the offender typically goes to will include:

  • The arresting agency (such as the local police department or sheriff’s office);
  • The booking agency (such as the county jail); and / or
  • The offender’s state’s department of corrections (covering your records while serving any prison sentences).xx

When Expungement in Arizona is Not an Option

Expungement in Arizona is not always going to be an option, or there could be varying factors that ultimately lead to expungement.xxi The criteria for what may be expunged will also vary depending on the jurisdiction. Some of the variations on expungement criteria could include:

  • May not be available at all;
  • May be an option for arrests only, but not for convictions;
  • May be an option only for certain criminal convictions;
  • May be an option for arrests and/or convictions that occurred while the offender was a juvenile;
  • May be available only after a person is acquitted (cleared) of the offense, such as the charges were dismissed, or if the offense is reversed.xxii

Examples of Expungement Processes for Different States

Arizona is one of the few states that does not allow expungement of a criminal record for any reason.xxiii Oddly enough, Arizona only keeps criminal records for an individual until they reach the age of 99.xxiv New York is another state that does not allow for expungement of criminal convictions.xxv However, New York does allow for expungement of arrest records if the matter was ultimately resolved in favor of the person who was arrested if:

  • There was a dismissal of charges;
  • An acquittal at trial; or
  • A successful appeal that overturns a conviction.xxvi

In California, the offender can petition the court for a dismissal of their case and if it is granted the court can set aside and dismiss the conviction.xxvii The end result of the process is the offender’s record will now show a dismissal rather than a conviction. In that scenario, the arrest will still be on the record, but at least the conviction is not. The court has full discretion on what convictions allow for a dismissal.

Conclusion to Expungement in Arizona

There are a lot of benefits to expunging your record after an arrest or a conviction. A criminal arrest or conviction can interfere with your ability to get a job, go to school, or start a family through adoption. Expunging your record could help you get that new job, rent that great apartment with a view, or restore your right to bear arms. Expungement in Arizona can also give you a great piece of mind knowing that even if someone runs a background check on you – the arrest or conviction will no longer be there.


i See Expungement FindLaw (Accessed March 4, 2017) http://criminal.findlaw.com/expungement.html

ii Id.

iii See Expungement Basics FindLaw (Accessed March 4, 2017) http://criminal.findlaw.com/expungement/expungement-basics.html

iv Id.

v Id.

vi See Expungement Basics FindLaw (Accessed March 4, 2017) http://criminal.findlaw.com/expungement/expungement-basics.html

vii Id.

viii Id.

ix See Expungement Eligibility FindLaw (Accessed March 4, 2017) http://criminal.findlaw.com/expungement/expungement-eligibility.html

x Id.

xi Id.

xii Id.

xiii Id.

xiv See Expungement Eligibility FindLaw (Accessed March 4, 2017) http://criminal.findlaw.com/expungement/expungement-eligibility.html

xv Id.

xvi Id.

xvii Id.

xviii See Expungement Basics FindLaw (Accessed March 4, 2017) http://criminal.findlaw.com/expungement/expungement-basics.html

xix Id.

xx Id.

xxi See Expungement is Not Always an Option Find Law (Accessed March 4, 2017) http://criminal.findlaw.com/expungement/expungement-is-not-always-an-option.html

xxii Id.

xxiii Id.

xxiv Id.

xxv See Expungement is Not Always an Option Find Law (Accessed March 4, 2017) http://criminal.findlaw.com/expungement/expungement-is-not-always-an-option.html

xxvi Id.

xxvii Id.