What does it mean to have your record “sealed” or “set aside”?

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What does it mean to have your record “sealed” or “set aside”?

Can employers and other businesses do a background check and still see it on the record. Or how does it work?

Asked on February 6, 2011 under Criminal Law, Arizona

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In AZ a criminal record may be sealed in what is known as a "set aside". This means that your conviction can be vacated but it will not wiped your record clean as with an "exungement" (which is only granted in a limited cases).  A misdemeanor conviction can set aside after completion of the sentence imposed. Felony convictions may be set aside on the discretion of a magistrate after successful completion of a sentence if the crime was not a sex crime, a crime against a child, and where no serious injury occurred and no deadly weapon was used.

You should be aware that a person whose conviction has been set aside must disclose the conviction if the employment application asks about prior a conviction.  An applicant must also report a previous conviction of an offense, if asked about prior convictions during a job interview.  However, the applicant should also report that the conviction has been set aside and the charges dismissed.  The law does not require that a conviction be removed from a person’s criminal record; it does require that the record show that the conviction has been set aside.  Therefore, in AZ when a conviction is set aside, a records check will probably show the original charge and conviction but that the judgment was vacated and that an order of dismissal was entered.

This is just a general overview.  You need to consult directly with a criminal law attorney in your area.  Give them all of the details of your case and they can best advise as to getting your conviction set aside (or possibly expunged) and how that will effect potential employment, licensing, etc.


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