On July 9, 2021, Arizona passed Senate Bill 1294, which would permit an individual to have his or her felony or misdemeanor arrest, conviction, and sentencing records sealed by the court. Record sealing is when a court seals or destroys records that would otherwise be publicly accessible to employers, landlords, and licensing agencies. Previously, the only relief Arizona courts granted was a set aside, which does not completely remove the offense from an individual’s record. Beginning January 1, 2023, individuals with arrests, convictions, and sentencing records can have their offenses completely removed from public records regardless of whether they were previously granted a set aside.
Applicants may be eligible for sealing after completing their sentence, which includes paying all fines and waiting thirty days after the court receives the applicant’s petition. Most offenses are eligible for sealing except for Class 1 felonies, and certain violent and sexual offenses. To be eligible for record sealing, an individual must not have committed a serious offense or be convicted of an offense involving the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or the knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person. Under SB 1294, there are no limitations based on the number of convictions that an applicant may have, nor are there any limitations on the number of times that an applicant can request to seal his or her records.
Depending on the applicant’s offense, he or she must meet the waiting period after completion of probation, the sentence, or the date of discharge to be eligible for record sealing relief. For a Class 2 or 3 felony, an applicant need only wait an additional waiting period of ten years. For a Class 4, 5, or 6 felony, an applicant need only wait an additional five years. § 13-911(E). For a Class 1 misdemeanor, an applicant need only wait an additional three year waiting period. For a Class 2 or 3 misdemeanor, an applicant has an additional waiting period of two years. If an applicant commits another offense during the waiting period for a prior offense, the waiting period is restarted.
Once the court grants the record sealing petition, then the record will be sealed and unavailable to the public. After granting the applicant’s petition, all law enforcement agencies are notified that the applicant’s records are now sealed. On applications, the individual would be able to truthfully indicate that he or she is not the subject of the sealed criminal case. This process will help ease employment and housing processes and allow individuals to better provide for themselves and their families.
We will begin taking clients for this future relief in mid-2022. Please contact us at that time with questions or if you’d like to retain our services.