Can You Have Your Criminal Records Sealed in Arizona?

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Can You Have Your Criminal Records Sealed in Arizona?

On January 1st, 2023, Arizona’s new law on sealing criminal records went into effect. The law allows Arizona residents who meet certain criteria to petition to have their criminal records sealed from public view. 

Having your criminal record sealed could give you a second chance at employment, education, and housing opportunities under this new law. However, there are many qualifications to meet first.  

Who Is Eligible for Having Their Criminal Records Sealed?

Not everyone with a criminal background is offered this opportunity. According to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-911, you can only file a petition to seal all case records relating to your criminal offense under certain conditions.

A criminal record can be sealed in these cases:

  • You were convicted of a criminal offense, and have completed all terms and conditions of the sentence imposed by the court (this includes the payment of all debts).
  • You were charged with a criminal offense, but the charge was subsequently dismissed or you were deemed not guilty.
  • You were arrested for a criminal offense, but no charges were filed.

If you are eligible and wish to seal your record, you must file a petition with the court where you received the conviction, or in the jurisdiction where you were arrested or where the charges were filed. If the court decides it is in the public’s best interests to have the criminal record sealed, they may grant your petition. 

Many misdemeanor and felony convictions can be eligible for sealing. However, you are not eligible to have your record sealed if you were sentenced as a dangerous offender under ARS 13-704, or convicted of any of the following offenses:

  • A dangerous crime against a child
  • A serious, violent, or aggravated felony
  • Any offense that involves a deadly weapon or the intentional injury of another person
  • Any sex trafficking offense under ARS  13-1307
  • A class 2, 3, 4, or 5 felony offense under Chapter 14 or 35.1 of Title 13

Is Sealing a Criminal Record the Same as Expunging It?

Expunging a criminal record means erasing it completely. However, only juvenile records can be expunged in Arizona. If you committed a crime as an adult and were convicted, your best option is to have it sealed.

Sealing a record removes it from public view. But while sealed records cannot be viewed without a court order, they can still be used in many legal situations or seen by government officials. When the records are sealed, it may appear that your criminal history has been erased, but technically, it is still on record.  

All criminal case records that are sealed may be:

  • “Alleged as an element of an offense,” meaning they can be used as proof a crime was committed
  • Considered a prior conviction if you face subsequent felony charges
  • Admissible for impeaching any party or witness in a later trial
  • Used to enhance the sentence for any future felony or any DUI offenses that fall under ARS 28-1381 and 28-1382 
  • Pleaded and proved if you are prosecuted again
  • Used as a conviction in cases where the conviction would be admissible if not sealed 

What Does a Sealed Criminal Record Mean for You?

More Job Opportunities

Many employers won’t hire prospects with a criminal background. But sealing your record means your criminal history won’t show up in a background check, making it easier for you to find employment. You also won’t be disqualified from state jobs, allowing for more unique career opportunities. 

Better Housing Options

Because landlords also conduct background checks, it can be difficult for Arizonans with criminal backgrounds to find good housing opportunities. Sealing your record can open up more options, and also make you eligible for public housing assistance programs. 

Better Quality of Life

Having a criminal record can deny you access to many opportunities—especially if you are a convicted felon. However, sealing your record can give you a fresh start in a variety of ways. In addition to more employment and housing options, a sealed record can also help you qualify for loans, make traveling easier, get accepted to more universities, and give you more peace of mind. 

Scottsdale Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been convicted of a crime in Arizona, contact the Van Norman Law team. We will build a strong defense for your case and fight for the best possible outcome for your future. We can also answer all of your questions about how to have your criminal record sealed. To schedule a consultation, give us a call at 480-481-0616 today. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (7/25/2023). Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels