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The Sealing of Criminal Records: What This Means if You’ve Been Convicted in Arizona

January 13, 2023

As of December 31, 2022, eligible parties can petition the court to have their criminal record(s) sealed. Petitioning the court does not guarantee that a judge will order your records sealed, and not everyone is eligible to file a petition. A criminal defense attorney can help you navigate this process and determine if you are eligible. Here is what this new statute means for people who have been convicted of a crime in Arizona: 

Who is Eligible to Petition for the Sealing of Their Criminal Records? 

As of December 31, 2022, anyone who was arrested, convicted, or sentenced before, on, or after December 31, 2022 may file a petition with the court to have their criminal case record sealed. You can file a petition to have your case records sealed if you have not had a petition to seal the records denied in the past three years and you were:

  • convicted of a criminal offense and have completed all the terms and conditions of the sentence, including payment of monetary obligations and restitution to victims.
  • were charged with a criminal offense and the charge was later dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict at trial.
  • arrested for a criminal defense and no charges were filed.

You cannot file a petition to have your criminal records sealed if you have been sentenced as a dangerous offender, convicted of a dangerous crime against children, convicted of a serious offense or violent or aggravated felony, convicted of any offense that had the knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person, convicted of sex trafficking, or convicted of a class 2, 3, 4,or 5 felony offense in Title 13, Chapter 14 or 35.1.

When Can You File a Petition? 

You can file a petition when the following period has passed since you completed the conditions of probation or sentence and were discharged from the court:

  • 10 years for a class 2 or 3 felony
  • 5 years for class 4, 5, or 6 felonies
  • 3 years for a class 1 misdemeanor
  • 2 years for class 2 or 3 misdemeanors

Do You Need an Attorney to File a Petition? 

No, you don’t need an attorney to file a petition to seal criminal case records, though it can be helpful to have one to help you navigate the complexities of the legal process. You can file a petition online through the court’s electronic filing process, or at the courthouse in person. You will need to provide as much information as possible in your petition regarding your arrest, charges, and case information, including:

  • arrest date(s)
  • arresting agency
  • location of booking
  • copy of citation or citation number
  • department report number
  • incident number

You can contact the arresting agency or search the public records archives to find this information. 

In Which Court Should You File a Petition to Have Your Records Sealed?

You will need to file your petition in the court where you were convicted of the offense. If the charges were dismissed or you were found not guilty at trial, you must file in the court where the indictment, information, criminal citation, or complaint was filed against you. If no charges were ever filed, you should file in the court in which you made your initial appearance. If no charges were filed and you didn’t have an initial appearance, you must file in the superior court of the county in which you were arrested. 

What Happens After You File a Petition? 

After you file a petition, it can take up to 30 days for the court to grant or deny the petition. If new charges are filed against you after you file a petition but before the court rules on it, you must notify the court. The court may set your petition for hearing or may choose to grant or deny your petition at any point if it has all required information and the prosecutor and victim do not object to the petition. You will be notified via mail if your petition is granted, and the court will issue an order signed by a Judge sealing your criminal records. 

What Happens if Your Record is Sealed? 

If your petition is granted and a judge orders that your criminal record be sealed, you are allowed to state on employment, housing, financial aid, and loan applications that you have never been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of the crime subject to your sealed arrest or conviction. Any case record published or distributed prior to sealing may still be accessible and can’t be made subject to an order to seal case records. There are certain situations in which you can’t deny that you were arrested or convicted of this crime, even though your records were sealed. Familiarize yourself with these exceptions and ask an attorney if you don’t understand them. Sealing your criminal record does not affect your right to appeal the conviction or sentence, the right for a law enforcement agency to maintain an arrest and conviction record, and their right to communicate it to prosecuting agencies, courts, probation departments, and other law enforcement agencies. It also doesn’t prevent the Department of Public Safety or Board of Fingerprinting from considering a sealed record when evaluating an application. 

Why Would a Petition be Denied? 

A petition may be denied if you don’t meet the eligibility requirements for filing or if the petition doesn’t contain enough information about your crime, charges, arrest, conviction, or record. If your petition is denied, you must wait three years from the date of denial to file a new petition. This waiting period doesn’t apply if your petition was dismissed without being ruled upon. You can appeal the court’s decision if the basis for your appeal is only due to your eligibility to petition for sealing your court records. 

How Can You Find Out More Information About This Statute? 

You can find out more about this statute, how to file a petition, and what your rights are by contacting a criminal defense attorney. You can also review the information at and ask your attorney if you have any questions. 

What to Expect if the Court Sets a Hearing Date on Your Petition

A hearing is not necessary prior to ruling on a petition, but one can be requested by you, the prosecutor, the victim, or on the court’s own motion. 

If You’re Wondering if You’re Eligible to Petition to Have Your Criminal Record Sealed in Arizona, Contact Janet Altschuler Today
If you aren’t sure if you qualify to have your criminal record sealed in Arizona, or if you aren’t sure how to file the process, our office can help. Janet Altsculer is an experienced criminal defense attorney who used to work as a prosecutor in Arizona. She knows how the court systems work and can thoroughly explain what you can expect if you file a petition to have your criminal records sealed. If you want to know more or have questions, call us today at (520) 247-1789 to schedule a free consultation or find out more information about how we can help you petition to have your records sealed in Arizona.

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