How to Expunge my Public Records in Arizona

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Generally, when an individual wants to delete a public record, the individual petitions a court to get the record set aside, although this does not completely delete the record. Setting aside a record only restricts access to it, meaning that the record does not show up on a background check at the county and state repositories and sometimes, Non-FCRA Compliant background check companies. Under the Arizona Revised Statute 13-905, any individual who has been convicted of a crime can file a petition in the Superior Court where the matter took place to have the conviction set aside.  

Setting aside a conviction does not mean that the record will be completely deleted or removed, it means that anyone who views such a record will see that the charges have been set aside or dismissed by the court. Persons looking to have their convictions set aside will need to present strong arguments stating the reasons for dismissing such records. Getting a public record removed has several potential benefits. Some of these benefits include the following:

  • Ability to enjoy basic civil rights, such as voting, passing a  background check for employment or housing
  • May become eligible for financial aid
  • A potential restoration of gun ownership privileges in Arizona
  • May become eligible for professional licenses
  • Improving access and admission to college and other educational resources
  • The risk of confidential and sensitive records being leaked becomes very low

What is a Public Record in Arizona?

The Arizona Public Information Act is a series of laws that provide public access to the records maintained by public agencies in the state. According to the Act, public records may include books, papers, maps, tape recordings, photographs, or other materials regardless of their physical form or means of transmission. The law mandates public bodies to make public records available to the general public upon request. This is in a bid to show transparency in government activities.

Although the Arizona Public Information Act provides members of the public with access to public records. However, some of these records are exempted from public disclosure. Only authorized parties can gain access to exempted records. Some examples of exempted public records include the following:

  • Medical records
  • Letters of reference regarding employees
  • Some personnel records
  • Parts of law enforcement records that reveal the following confidential details
  • Information on assault against a person with the intent to commit a violent
  • Trade secrets
  • Juvenile records

Individuals who may want their records to be unavailable to public access will have to apply to the courts to have these records dismissed. Note that they must meet certain requirements before they can have their record dismissed.

Does Arizona allow Expungement?

No, the state of Arizona does not allow expungement, however, the state allows individuals with criminal records to apply to the Superior Court which handled the conviction to “set aside” their charges.  A set aside applies mostly to state criminal records and it does not mean that such record will be expunged or deleted, instead, the record will be sealed by the court. It is important to note that not all convictions can be set aside, there are certain crimes for which the convictions cannot be set aside by the court. Under the Arizona Revised Statute 13-905, these crimes include:

  • Crimes involving a dangerous offense
  • An offense for which the person is required or ordered by the court to register pursuant to  Arizona Revised Statute 13-3821
  • Crimes involving the infliction of serious physical injuries
  • Crimes involving the use or exhibition of deadly weapons
  • Crimes motivated by sexual desires pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute 13-118
  • Crimes where the victims are younger than 15 years old
  • A traffic violation while the defendant’s license was suspended or revoked

How Do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Arizona?

In Arizona, to qualify for setting aside criminal records, interested persons must first ensure that they meet the criteria to have their criminal or arrest records dismissed. Records can only be set aside when the following requirements have been met:

  • Applicants have completed the imposed sentence or probation, including any alcohol or rehabilitation programs and anger management course completion requirements
  • Applicants do not have any additional criminal convictions from anywhere between 3 months and 6 years from the date of the completion of the original sentence or probation that was tied to the original conviction.

If all these requirements have been met, the defendant can then apply to the Superior Court to set aside the conviction.

The first step to get a criminal record set aside is to file a motion in the Superior Court where the matter took place. Applicants can fill any of the following applications, depending on the conviction they are looking to set aside:

To fill any of the above forms, applicants must have the necessary information. Some of this information includes:

  • Name of the court where the judgment was entered
  • Date of judgment
  • Name of offense
  • Date of discharge

After filling the application, applicants must make three (3) copies and file the original motion with the Clerk of the Superior Court. It is important to note that applicants must get the 3 copies stamped at the court. Stamped copies are called "conformed copies” and they serve as proof that the original motion was filed.

If the applicant is applying in person, they must deliver one of the copies to the Judge that handled the conviction and one copy to the County Attorney. Alternatively, if filing the motion by mail, the applicant must include two envelopes with postage. One of the envelopes must be self-addressed for when the records will be returned, the other postage envelope must be addressed to the County Attorney. The third copy will be forwarded to the Judge from the Clerk of the Superior Court’s office. After the motions have been properly filed, the Judge may enter a decision or an order granting the application. A notice of the decision will be communicated to the applicant via mail.

Note that applicants with multiple convictions must fill a separate application for each conviction. Applicants may employ qualified attorneys or choose to submit the application themselves. In Arizona, no appearances or open hearings are required for an application to set aside a conviction. The application is ruled in a closed session.

Interested persons looking to get their case "vacated" may be able to do this by applying to the court. However, the court will only consider vacating a conviction in specific cases. If a person was convicted for a prostitution charge which happened because they were a victim of human trafficking, such a person can apply to the court to vacate that record. Once the conviction is vacated, the person can claim under most circumstances that the crime never occurred.

Will My Expungement Record Show on a Background Check in Arizona?

In Arizona, a set aside does not remove or erase a record, instead, the record will show that the charges have been dismissed by the court.

How to Seal a Record in Arizona

There are no statutory provisions for sealing of records in Arizona, however, the state allows for the destruction of Juvenile records under the Arizona Revised Statute 8-349. To apply for the destruction of a record in a Juvenile Court and the Department of Juvenile Corrections, a requester must first fulfill the requirements, these include that the applicant must:

  • Be at least eighteen (18) years old
  • Not have been convicted of a felony as an adult
  • Not have been adjudicated delinquent for murder (1st or 2nd degree), or convicted for sexual assault, armed robbery, or DUI
  • Must not have any pending charges
  • Must have completed probation and paid all fines and restitution
  • It must be in the interest of justice to have such records destroyed.

After meeting the requirements, the applicant must file an Application for Destruction of Juvenile Records along with an affidavit and submit it to the Superior Court in the county where they intend to file the application. The Clerk of the Court will send a copy of the application to the County Attorney for a chance to object. The Judge will grant the application if there are enough grounds to destroy the record.

Who Can See My Sealed Record in Arizona?

In Arizona, public records that have been set aside will remain available to the public, law enforcement, and the court.

How to Delete Bankruptcy Record in Arizona

In Arizona, individuals might be able to get their bankruptcy records deleted only in special circumstances. For example, when there is a piece of inaccurate information or error on the information on a bankruptcy record, individuals can send a dispute letter to the court asking for a correction and removal of the bankruptcy. If the court finds this claim to be valid, it could be a ground for removal.

Also, there are situations where a person might have a fake bankruptcy on their record, such a person can contact the court for a written statement proving this. If the court issues a written statement confirming the claim, the applicant will send it along with a copy of a valid ID to the major credit bureaus in the state to get the bankruptcy cleared. It may take a little while for the record to be removed, but it will eventually be corrected.

If there is a legitimate bankruptcy on a record, removing it might be impossible. According to the United States Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1681, a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will automatically be removed from a credit report after 10 years have elapsed, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will be removed from the credit report after seven years.

There is no legal way to remove a legitimate bankruptcy record before these periods have lapsed.

What are Consumer Protection Laws in Arizona?

Generally, Arizona Consumer Protection Laws are sets of laws created to protect a consumer from fraudulent actions perpetrated by deceptive business owners, unfair trade practices, or identity scams. The Arizona Revised Statute 44-1522 prohibits unlawful practices in merchant-consumer transactions. Some of the consumer protection laws available in Arizona include the following;

Arizona Identity Theft law

This law addresses the crime of identity theft, which includes using another person’s identification for unlawful purposes or for securing goods and services. According to the  Arizona Revised Statute Title 3, Criminal code 13-2008, such offense is a class 4 felony.

Arizona Lemon Law

The Arizona Lemon Law protects consumers who buy new cars that do not conform to reasonably expected standards. Usually, this will require a refund or replacement. To qualify for protection under the lemon law, the mechanical issue must be a major one that impairs the use and value of the car. Mechanical issues must also be within the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership. The buyer is entitled to receive a replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase price under this law.

Arizona Deceptive Trade Practices Law

The Arizona Deceptive Trade Practices Laws prohibit deceptive trade practices, such as false advertising and baits.

Arizona Pyramid and Ponzi scheme Law

This law addresses financial crimes such as pyramid and ponzi schemes, which involve illegally making money through unsustainable business models, thereby scamming thousands of people.

How to Delete Lien Records in Arizona

In Arizona, a lien may be placed on a property if the lien holder claims that there is an alleged debt owed by the property owner.  Sometimes, a homeowner may not be aware that there is a lien on their property and this can cause problems if they try to sell the property. The easiest way to know if there is a lien on a property is to check at the county’s recorder office by submitting a public record request.

The easiest way to remove a lien on a record is to pay off the debt. Anyone with a lien record may also be able to negotiate a lower amount or agree on an installment payment with the creditor. After the payment is made, the next step is to fill out the lien release form release and file it at the office of the County Recorder where the lien was initially recorded.

Another way to remove a lien on a property is to bring an action against the lien holder in the Superior Court in the county where the property is located. In Arizona, this is called Quiet Title Action. The Arizona Revised Statute 33-420. authorizes property owners to bring an action in court against wrongful liens if they believe that the lien on the property is groundless, or contains false claims. The property owner may be able to remove a lien if the claim is successful.

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