On December 31, 2022, a new law in the state of Arizona went into effect allowing a person to petition a court to seal an arrest, dismissal, or criminal conviction record. While there are some exceptions (link to ARS 13-911(I)), a person who is successful in having their record sealed is allowed to state on most applications for employment, housing, or loan assistance that they have never been arrested or convicted of a crime. This can make it easier for someone with a record to access better housing, jobs, and more opportunities in life.
Record Sealing vs. Record Expungement
When a record is sealed, it's no longer accessible to the public and should not show up on a background check for employment or housing. You also have permission to answer “no,” when asked about your criminal record on most applications. However, even though the public can't see your record without a court order, it is still on your criminal history. So, when your records are sealed, it might seem like your criminal history is erased, but it's actually still there in a restricted way. Sealing your record will also not help you obtain a fingerprint clearance card.
Record expungement is the best way to clear a record, but in Arizona, expungement is only available for certain marijuana convictions.
However, there are still many benefits to record sealing, and it should open many of the same opportunities as record expungement.
How Does Record Sealing Work in Arizona?
Arizona’s sealing law does not impose a limit on the number of cases that can be sealed, and broadly applies to most misdemeanor and felony level convictions after a waiting period. The waiting period for sealing a criminal record in Arizona begins to run from the latest of the following dates: sentence date, release from incarceration, completion of probation or parole, or absolute discharge, whichever is last. If a person is trying to seal a record and they have a prior felony, five additional years will be added to the total wait time.
The chart below generally outlines the offense types and applicable waiting periods for criminal records in Arizona:
To be eligible to seal a record in Arizona, a person must pay all fines, fees, and restitution ordered by the court. If a sealing petition is denied, the person can apply again in the future, but must wait 3 years to do so.
The sealing process can take up to 6 months and can be complicated for a person to do on their own. Rasa’s mission is to make it simple and affordable for everyone to get access to an affordable record-clearance solution.
The easiest way to find what is on your record, and whether it is eligible for record sealing, is to use Rasa’s eligibility tool. Rasa’s eligibility tool takes less than 3 minutes to use. It uses advanced technology to scan criminal records in Arizona court databases to identify what is on your record. It then processes the information and compares your records to Arizona law, to determine what legal options are available to you.