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Motion to Set Aside Judgment of Guilt

Everyone makes mistakes. For some, it is an isolated incident where a felony or misdemeanor is committed… for others, it may be a happy hour after work that got a bit out of hand. Whatever the reasons that one is convicted of a crime, it is important to be aware of the impact that conviction can have on a person’s future.

Felony and DUI convictions have a negative impact not only on an individual’s immediate future, but for years and years to come. The presence of this conviction on one’s record can make finding a job or even renting an apartment difficult.

Removing Felony & DUI Convictions

Thankfully, in most cases, those with a felony, DUI or other misdemeanor in the State of Arizona are allowed to remove such convictions from their records.

The process of removing such convictions from an individual’s record in many states is generally referred to as an “expungement.” The procedure for expunging one’s record varies from state to state. Arizona doesn’t have expungement but uses a process known as “set-aside.”

Advantages to Setting-Aside a Criminal Record

Law enforcement officers, employment and education facilities often review a person’s criminal history before hiring or granting that individual’s application. Many are often denied simply because they have a DUI conviction on their record. Getting a set-aside for a criminal conviction in Arizona can diminish this barrier to employment and educational opportunities.

Both felony and misdemeanor convictions are eligible for receiving a set-aside. Depending on the severity of the conviction, additional advantages to receiving a set-aside can include:

  • Ability to apply for the right to possess firearms
  • Renewed right to vote
  • Ability to hold public office

In most cases, receiving a set-aside provides applicants with the ability to confidently answer “NO” when asked if they are currently convicted of a misdemeanor or are a felon.
Negative Impact of Past Felony or DUI Convictions

According to a Wall Street Journal report, “past offenses negatively impact many people, and are becoming an increasing problem for ‘blue-collar and middle-class applicants with solid work histories’ looking to find work in today’s recession.”

Unfortunately, employers can afford to be picky about the candidates they hire and they likely choose ones based on the information provided by background checks.

As a result, applications to set-aside criminal convictions have increased over the last several years. In 2006, for instance, over 80 percent of companies performed background checks, an increase from the 50 percent of background checks completed in 1998.

How to Apply for a Set-Aside

An Order to Set Aside Judgment of Guilt can only be issued by the Court in which one was sentenced. An individual with a criminal conviction can “apply to the judge, justice of the peace or magistrate who pronounced sentence or imposed probation” or another in office to have the conviction set-aside. The court will then review a variety of factors before granting a set-aside. These factors can include:

  • The amount of time that has passed since the conviction was issued
  • The presence of any additional incidents since the first conviction
  • The seriousness or type of crime committed
  • Whether the applicant fulfilled the terms of the issued sentence

After review, the Court will either grant or deny the request for the set-aside. If the request is denied, the applicant may be able to request the Court reconsider his or her application.
If the application is granted, the conviction is set-aside. The Court will dismiss the information and order the individual’s “release from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction.”
What’s Next?

If you or your loved one are ready to move forward in life after a criminal conviction in the State of Arizona, click below for a free review of your criminal history to see if you qualify to have your criminal conviction set-aside and your civil and gun rights restored!