If you wish to expunge your criminal record, you become a petitioner and must follow the steps to gain court approval.
In the state of Arizona, there is a procedure to follow to erase a conviction from your record and the process has certain benefits and limitations.
Expungement versus a set-aside
In Arizona, there is expungement and there is a “set-aside.” While an expungement refers to the permanent erasure of your criminal record, setting aside a conviction means just that. Your conviction will still appear on your record, but a judge determines that you have paid your dues to society, allowing you to move forward with your life.
In general, you are eligible to seek expungement if you have no other conviction outside of the crime you wish to remove from your record. You have no pending proceedings, no pending court order and you have fulfilled all the requirements from a previous court order.
To expunge a non-serious conviction from your record, you will file a petition and pay a filing fee in the court where your conviction occurred. You may seek the help of your attorney to prepare the petition and to ensure copies reach the proper recipients including the prosecutor. If the court determines that your petition is valid, the judge may grant approval.
A sealed record
If your expunged criminal record is sealed rather than destroyed, it will always be accessible to both state and federal courts, local and state law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal immigration department. However, your criminal record is only made available to government agencies if you become involved in a new criminal offense or if you apply for a high-security business license or occupation.