What Does a Phoenix Arizona Felony or Misdemeanor Expungement Lawyer Do?
In Arizona, it’s not expungement of a felony or misdemeanor, it’s really called “Set Aside a Conviction” and there’s a statute directly in the Arizona Statutes, ARS Arizona Revised Statute 13-907.
For reference, here’s a page from the Arizona legislature with a lot of useful information about who qualifies in Arizona to get their conviction set aside in felony and misdemeanor cases.
What is Set Aside a Conviction in Arizona?
The statute allows for a person convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in Arizona to set aside their conviction. Basically it says that anybody convicted of a criminal offense can apply to have their charges set aside, with certain exceptions. This can be done upon completing their sentence or probation term or discharge from prison. There can be no other remaining conditions.
Or, if you’re put on probation, you’ve completed your probation successfully and paid off your fines and fees or restitution. All of those conditions must be satisfied before you can apply. Then, if that’s the case you can apply to set aside the conviction and judgment. There are certain exceptions to the ability to apply.
Who Can Apply to Set Aside Their Felony or Misdemeanor Conviction?
First, let me tell you the only 5 circumstances where you wouldn’t be able to apply (under ARS 13-907E):
- If the events involved a dangerous offense (in Arizona, deemed as anything involving a weapon of any type) or
- If you are ordered to register as a sex offender or
- If your crime involved a sexual motivation or
- If the crime involves a person under the age of 15 where the victim is under the age of 15 you cannot apply or
- The crime involves a motor vehicle as specific to certain other ARS statutes.
As long as your conviction didn’t involve any of the above, you may apply. You’ll need to go through the application process.
To apply to have your conviction set aside, there’s two possibilities:
- you can go it alone and hope the court grants the motion for you, or
- you can have someone knowledgeable and experienced with the process help you through it.
Why would I want to apply to expunge or have my conviction set aside?
The value of it is, for example, if you’re trying to obtain employment you may be able to compete better for a job if your conviction has been set aside. In other words the conviction will still show on your record (that’s the difference between expungement and setting aside a conviction) but you can go to the potential employer and show them the court has ordered that your conviction to be set aside.
That means that you’ve not only fulfilled all the terms and conditions of your sentence and/or your probation, but you remain law-abiding. That’s huge for you because one of the things the court looks at it in deciding to set aside a conviction is if you’ve remained law-abiding for a significant period of time.
There is no statute that governs this or that specifies a period of time to wait. Usually it’s at the court’s discretion. So generally I tell people if you just finished your sentence or you just got off probation you may want to wait some time, even a significant period of time. Six months, a year, two years before you apply because the court may want to see a good track record – they want to be sure you’re staying out of trouble and changed your life for the better.
Sometimes people are looking for loans or housing or applying for some other position or benefit and setting aside a conviction may help them. Sometimes it it could help with an immigration court. I’ve heard immigration attorneys tell me that setting aside a conviction may help them because the immigration court will take that into account.
What Offenses Do You See Most Often to Be Set Aside?
I’d say drug offenses, DUI’s, and domestic violence offenses are the most popular cases we apply for, as long as they don’t involve a dangerous offender. The successful cases are generally the people that made a mistake but they’re generally good people but not habitual criminals.
They’re just people who had a bad day and things went awry and ultimately they were convicted.of a small drug offense, a DUI, or a domestic violence offense. These can be a husband and wife or boyfriend-girlfriend kind of relationships where there’s a heated argument or a fight.
The police were called and they came out; somebody was charged with disorderly conduct or assault on the domestic violence offense. Some of the drug offenses where people are caught with possession of marijuana or they get caught with a little bit of cocaine or something like that.
It’s not that they’re bad people. It’s that they used poor judgement and made a mistake. But they’re able to show that they’ve learned from this negative situation and they’ve successfully moved on.
Your Success Rate is Much Higher With a Phoenix Felony Expungement Attorney in Arizona
My success rate to set aside convictions in Arizona is high because of my decades of experience working with these types of cases. On the many applications that I’ve been successful with, I’ve noticed that what helps considerably is that a significant period of time has passed. There is no set period of time, but the more serious the offense is, the longer the period of time should pass before applying.
If it’s a misdemeanor I suggest people do apply right away. But if it’s a felony, especially a serious felony, you better wait longer versus applying right away.
Can I Apply For Setting Aside My Own Conviction?
Yes, you can absolutely apply to do this on your own – I’ve seen a lot of people apply on their own. It’s just a one-page form. The problem is that most of the time the form doesn’t tell the court anything other than your name, date of birth, your address, etc. Your chances of being approved are much lower this way.
Here is why people hire me to do this and why we’re successful most of the time: I’ll sit down with you and get some background information. I say, let’s talk about your crime what happened during your crime. Is there any information we can provide provide the court to explain the crime?
For example, I had a lady who committed a drug offense. I asked her why did you commit that drug offense? “Because my mother was ill – she needed to have surgery. I was desperate so I got involved in this.”
Obviously it didn’t justify what she did. But sometimes a little bit of an explanation like that goes a long way. Then certainly coupled with the fact that she had no other criminal record, either before that conviction or after that conviction. Maybe this person can show this.
What Are My Best Chances of Success?
For the best chances of being successful in your case, speaking as a misdemeanor and felony expungement attorney Phoenix Arizona, I will encourage you to provide the court letters of character reference from family, friends, co-workers, employers, any people in the community that can vouch for you and say: look – this person has really turned their life around right now. They can give examples of that. That’s always very helpful.
Also, look for anything else that can prove you’ve done to turn your life around – I have had people give me certificates for all kinds of wonderful things that they’ve accomplished since their conviction. If you’re thinking about this for the future, seriously consider enrolling in one or more online courses (even free ones) and then download and print those certificates.
Undergoing personal therapy and/or volunteering and giving time to the community such as a cub scout leader or a soccer coach are all very helpful to show the court. Any information that we can provide to show that you had obviously received a ding on their record but it was completely isolated in nature. It never happened before and hasn’t happened since.
You’ve obviously turned the corner on this thing and are leading a 100% law-abiding productive life. We’d provide all that information to the court. Then you’re ahead of everyone else who just submits the form. Now the court’s seeing reasons why they would want to grant your conviction to be set aside.
Are You Available To Help?
Yes, I’m happy to help! I provide a free consultation to see if there’s an opportunity to get your conviction set aside. If you have been convicted of a crime here in Arizona, done your term (or finished your probation) and paid your fines and fees, or you’re about to, give us a call at The Ferragut Law Firm.
We can help you decide if applying to have your conviction set aside has a good potential to be approved by the court so you can live the rest of your life with less legal baggage on your back. Call us today at 602-324-5300 – I look forward to hearing from you!