What Does an Arizona Motion to Set Aside Conviction Do and Not Do? A.R.S. 13-907

We are going to explore a motion to set aside a conviction in the state of Arizona.  Arizona does not have something called expungement (a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an individual’s arrest or a criminal conviction is “sealed,” or “erased” in the eyes of the law.)  The closest thing that AZ has to sealing a criminal conviction is something called a motion to set aside.

If you have a criminal conviction on your record and are granted a motion to set aside, the court will set aside the judgement of guilt, dismiss the complaint, information or indictment and order that you be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction.

Once granted, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS),which serves as the central repository for various types of records, including criminal history records, will be required to update your record stating that your conviction has been set aside. It is still possible to research the DPS database and locate your file, but the file would be annotated reflecting that the prior conviction record was set aside.

What a motion to set aside won’t do is eliminate any negative impacts that have been imposed by the Arizona Motor Vehicles Department, the Department of Public Safety or the Game and Fish Commission.

For example, if you were convicted of a DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) and that DUI was set aside and then if you were arrested again for drinking and driving, that prior conviction, even though it was set aside, would be counted against you as far as points being assessed on your driver’s license. A second DUI offense would be regarded as much more serious in the eyes of the law and so would the resulting consequences. Essentially, the aggregate of all your past legal misdeeds are taken into consideration.  A motion to set aside does not require a law enforcement agency to redact or remove information from the record of a person whose conviction is set aside. It also will not prevent the department of public safety or the board of fingerprinting from considering a conviction that has been set aside when evaluating an application for a fingerprint clearance card.  There are certain types of convictions/offenses that are not eligible to be set aside such as:

  • Offenses involving serious bodily injury
  • Offenses involving the use of a deadly weapon
  • Offenses classified as a felony or dangerous offense
  • Offenses that are sexually motivated or that require a person to register as a sex offender
  • Offenses involving victims under the age of fifteen
  • Offenses including driving on a suspended/canceled license, reckless driving, or any other ordinance violation for operation of a motor vehicle

Despite the inherent limitations of a motion to set aside a conviction, a court order signed by a judge and stamped by the court vacating a judgement of guilt and dismissing charges against a person is still a major benefit in the real world.  It’s possible that a conviction set aside will also restore your firearm privileges related to the conviction as long as it was not a serious offense.

Most importantly it is personally gratifying, and it frees you to move on with your life in a positive direction. If you have a conviction that is holding you back by languishing on your record and would like to explore getting it set aside please call R&R Law Group for a free consultation at (602) 883-2523.