A.R.S. 13-911: Sealing Records from Criminal Cases
The State of Arizona has established clear guidelines and procedures for the sealing of arrest, conviction, and sentencing records through Arizona Revised Statute 13-911. This statute outlines the conditions under which an individual may request the sealing of their records, the process involved, and the implications of such sealing.
Eligibility for Sealing Records
Under this statute, individuals can request the sealing of their records if they fall into one of the following categories:
- Completed Sentence: Persons who have been convicted of a criminal offense and have successfully completed all terms and conditions of their court-imposed sentence, including monetary obligations and restitution to victims.
- Dismissed Charges or Not Guilty Verdicts: Individuals who were charged with a criminal offense, but those charges were subsequently dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict at trial.
- No Charges Filed: Persons who were arrested for a criminal offense, but no charges were ultimately filed against them.
Waiting Periods and Eligibility
Section E of A.R.S. 13-911 is a critical part of this statute, addressing waiting periods and eligibility criteria for individuals seeking to have their records sealed. It specifies that individuals who have been convicted of an offense and have not subsequently been convicted of another offense (excluding specific violations) can petition the court to seal their records after completing all sentence requirements, including financial obligations.
The waiting periods vary based on the severity of the offense:
- For class 2 or 3 felonies, a ten-year waiting period applies.
- For class 4, 5, or 6 felonies, a five-year waiting period is required.
- For class 1 misdemeanors, a three-year waiting period is necessary.
- Class 2 or 3 misdemeanors have a two-year waiting period.
- The statute also considers prior historical felony convictions. If an individual has such a conviction, they must wait an additional five years after the standard waiting period outlined in Section E before they can petition for record sealing.
Petitioning for Sealing Records
To initiate the record-sealing process, the individual must file a petition in one of the following courts, depending on their circumstances:
- The court of their conviction.
- The court where charges were filed and subsequently dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict.
- The court where the initial appearance occurred if no charges were filed.
- The superior court in the county where the arrest took place if there was no initial appearance and no charges were filed.
Important Procedures and Considerations
Before granting or denying a petition to seal records, the court must adhere to several essential procedures and considerations:
- The court may not make a decision until thirty calendar days after receiving the petition unless all parties involved, including the prosecutor and victims, do not object.
- A hearing may be requested by the petitioner, prosecutor, or victim, but the court may grant or deny a petition without a hearing.
- The court’s decision should prioritize the best interests of the petitioner and public safety.
- Victims are entitled to be present and heard during proceedings related to the petition.
- The court shall notify the Department of Public Safety to provide a comprehensive report on the petitioner’s state and federal arrests, prosecutions, and convictions.
Sealing and Implications
If the court grants the petition to seal case records:
- All records related to the petitioner’s arrest, conviction, and sentence are sealed.
- The petitioner can legally state that they have never been arrested, charged, or convicted of the crime.
- There are exceptions for certain job applications, law enforcement positions, background checks, and compliance with specific laws.
Limitations and Exceptions
This statute contains limitations and exceptions, including:
- Persons with dangerous offender or serious offense convictions are not eligible. These include those convicted of dangerous crimes against children, violent or aggravated felonies, or offenses involving the use of deadly weapons, serious physical injury, or sex trafficking. Class 2, 3, 4, or 5 felonies within specific chapters are also exempt.
- Multiple convictions require individual waiting periods.
- The right to appeal convictions or sentences is not affected.
The full statute can be referenced here.
Rideout Law Group is happy to help eligible individuals seal their criminal records. Call us today so we can lead you through this process.