Expunging or sealing records Article


Setting Aside Convictions and Restoring Civil Rights

After you have been convicted of a crime and completed your sentence (jail, prison, probation, fine and fees), you may be eligible for a Set Aside. The article provides information about setting aside both felony and misdemeanor convictions, restoring civil rights and restoring gun rights, based on Arizona law.

Each case is unique and we cannot guarantee that a Set Aside will be granted.  Success in receiving a Set Aside depends on the laws at the time of conviction and the assigned judge’s discretion. Since the outcome of a case depends on many different things, this is intended for educational purposes and is not legal advice.  An attorney can provide additional information and legal advice. Therefore, questions about an individual situation should be discussed with an attorney.

What is “set aside”?
A Set Aside does not change the fact that you have a criminal record but it does show that you competed your sentence and probation, paid your fines and fees and have no pending charges.

A Set Aside is not the same as an expungement: Arizona has no expungement laws. You interactions with the court system can be found on-line. Anyone searching your history will still see the conviction but also the designation of Set Aside.

If I committed a crime in California, can I get it Set Aside in Arizona?
No. Each individual state decides what expungement and/or set aside means in its state.  You must address the court in the state you committed the crime in. You can contact the court or an attorney in that state for more information.  This article only addresses Arizona law.

How will employers and landlords view Set Asides?

Policies may vary, but some employers view Set Asides very positively and request that an applicant receive a Set Aside. Others have less flexibility and will only see the conviction. The same is true for landlords.

Expungement does not wipe out the conviction. The record of conviction is not destroyed.  A conviction may be used to deny certain kinds of employment, licenses, permits, certificates as well as used against a person in future criminal cases, even though the conviction was set aside.

In Arizona, after a conviction is set aside, does a person have to disclose the conviction on a job application or in a job interview?
Yes, while it is your choice with internet background checks, the record of the conviction remains. There are state and local government agencies and some private employers who “Ban the Box” and only ask about criminal convictions at the in-person interview. This allows the applicant to explain any interaction with the criminal court system. 

Where are Arizona’s laws about setting aside a conviction?

The laws about setting aside a conviction are presently found in. A.R.S. § 13-907  which permits a person convicted of a felony or misdemeanor to request a "set aside" of the conviction under certain circumstances. 

Who might be able to set aside a conviction in Arizona?
A set aside may be available if a person was convicted y in an Arizona Court and that person has successfully prison or jail time, probation and paid fines and fees.

          A set aside is not available to a person convicted of a criminal offense:

    1. Involving the infliction of serious physical injury,
    2. Involving the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument,
    3. For which the person is required or ordered by the court to register as a sex offender, A.R.S. § 13-3821,
    4. For which there has been a finding of sexual motivation under A.R.S. § 13-118
    5. In which the victim is a minor under 15 years of age, or
    6. In violation of A.R.S. § 28-3473, any local ordinance relating to stopping, standing or operation of a vehicle or title 28, chapter 3, except a violation of §28-693 or any local ordinance relating to the same subject matter as A.R.S. § 28-693.

What happens if the Court grants a person’s request to set aside a conviction?
If the Court grants the application to set aside a conviction, the Court will set aside the judgment of guilt.  Then the Court will order the person’s release from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction, except:

  1. The penalties and disabilities imposed by the department of transportation under A.R.S. §§ 28-3304, 28-3306, 28-3307, 28-3308 or 28-3319, except that the conviction may be used if the conviction would be admissible had it not been set aside;
  2. The set aside conviction may be pleaded and proved in any subsequent prosecution of that person for any offense or
  3. It may be used by the department of transportation to enforce A.R.S. §§ 28-3304, 28-3306, 28-3307, 28-3308 or 28-3319 as if it had not been set aside.

When might a person be eligible to get their civil rights restored after a felony conviction?
A felony conviction results in the suspension of some civil rights which may include the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury, and possess firearms. Usually, these civil rights are not suspended for misdemeanor convictions so this process may not apply. Generally, if you’ve completed probation or finished your prison term, your civil rights will be restored automatically. If you have more than one felony offense, then you should apply for your civil rights back. You can apply for your civil rights for cases that you cannot get Set Aside.

The restoration of civil rights may be available to felony offenders convicted in a County Superior Court in Arizona or in federal court, Arizona Courts do not have the authority to set aside convictions or restore guns rights to persons convicted in federal court.

Will a person’s gun rights be restored as part of restoring civil rights?
Whether a person’s gun rights are restored may depend upon the date of conviction, any subsequent convictions and the judge’s discretion.

Requests to restore civil rights and restore gun rights are separate orders, but the requests can be submitted to the Court at same time as the request to set aside the conviction.

How does a person apply to have a conviction set aside, civil rights restored and gun rights restored?
To restore these rights, a person would file a request with the Superior Court in the county where the conviction occurred. For a federal conviction, a person would submit an application to the Superior Court in the county where that person lives. Instructions for setting aside a conviction, restoring civil rights, and restoring gun rights can be found at the following websites:

  • Coconino County: update
  • Maricopa County: update links

If the county in which the person was convicted does not have these forms online, contact the Clerk’s Office in the county where the conviction occurred to see which forms could be used. Contact information for County Superior Court Clerks can be found at update

What happens after a person submits the application to set aside a conviction, to restore civil rights and to restore gun rights?
The Court will review the application and may grant the request, deny the request, set a hearing in some counties or set orders the Court believes is appropriate in the person’s case. For questions about the hearing, call the Court that set the hearing or contact an attorney.

What can a person do if the Court denies the request?
If the Court denies the request, a person can file a request for reconsideration, depending upon the reason for the denial. Instructions and forms for requesting a reconsideration can be found on the Courts’ websites. A person planning to request a reconsideration may want to discuss the request with an attorney before filing it.


Comments:

On 8/16/10
AZLAwHelp.org said
Coconino County Superior Court serves individuals in Flagstaff.

On 8/6/10
Bob said
Where is the form for Flagstaff Justice court? Or, do I simply use the Maricopa Superior court form?

On 8/4/10
Law Librarian said
The Coconino County web address has changed to http://www.coconino.az.gov/lawlibrary.aspx?id=19434

On 2/28/09
sam said
NM has a bill in progress now concerning this very topic. I hope it makes it way through the senate and house. I am 47 now, but still am considered a danger, I guess, even though I have no post record since 1990.

On 12/27/08
Sarah said
Why isn't there any information about how many years court records are available to the public.

View all Comments

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