Question: I thought that expungement meant the clearing or erasing of one's record, but it doesn't mean that in AZ. What does it mean? What is the point of it?
Arizona does not have an ‘expungement’ statute. Instead, A.R.S. § 13-907
permits a defendant to request a "set aside" of his conviction under certain circumstances. If a person succeeds in persuading the judge to set aside his conviction, a records check will probably reflect that the defendant was originally charged, and convicted, but that the judgment was eventually set aside and an order of dismissal was entered.
For someone who is convicted of a felony, a set aside can be very important because it has the effect of releasing the defendant "from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction other than those imposed by the Department of Transportation pursuant to 28-3304, 28-3306, 28-3307 or 28-3308.” (See A.R.S. §§ 28-3304 – 3308
). When someone is convicted of a felony, they are generally forbidden to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury, and possess firearms. The setting aside of such a conviction therefore carries a great deal of meaning.
For someone who is convicted of only a misdemeanor, the benefits of a set aside are less obvious. In fact, they may be negligible, since misdemeanor convictions do not impose the same restrictions on constitutional rights that a felony would.
You should bear in mind that 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,
(4) for which there has been a finding of sexual motivation,
(5) in which the victim is a minor under 15 years of age, and
(6) other circumstances as may apply.
October 17, 2006