A common question people ask is what is a conviction set-aside? A set-aside changes the labeling of the conviction from “guilt” to “set-aside”. Also, it takes away certain negative consequences a “guilty” label carries. Indeed, A.R.S. 13-905 allows most misdemeanor and felony convictions to be set-aside. However, certain crimes may not be set-aside. Specifically, dangerous offenses, most sex offenses, and crimes involving victims under 15 years old. Moreover, this is not an automatic right. Rather, one must file an application in the court that imposed the conviction. And the convicting court must consider certain factors when determining whether to grant the application. Specifically, the factors include victim input, criminal record, nature of the offense, and length of time elapsed since the conviction.

Is a Conviction Set-Aside the Same as Expungement?


Conviction set-asides and expungements are similar but not the same. Conviction expungement seals an entire record of the conviction. Indeed, expungement proceedings result in the sealing of arrest records and court documents. As if the conviction did not occur. Unfortunately, expungement is not available in Arizona, except for certain marijuana related offenses.

Set-Aside in Arizona and Certificates of Second Chance

A conviction set-aside does not seal records. In fact, the record remains. However, the set-aside dismisses the complaint. Also, it releases a convicted person from all penalties, except certain consequences imposed by DMV or Game and Fish. Moreover, the court record will not show “guilt”, but will show “set-aside”. This not only eliminates negative consequences but provides new life to a convicted party. Specifically, the court grants a “certificate of second chance” after a set-aside. This allows one to obtain certain occupational licenses or housing, not otherwise available due to the conviction or “guilt” label.

It may seem an act in futility to set-aside when it does not result in sealed records. However, value exists in this exercise. Indeed, although the conviction is visible, the order setting aside the conviction is also present for employers. Moreover, the certificate of second chance corroborates the order. This is a positive for employers as the conviction is set-aside and it demonstrates action taken by the individual.

Huss Law, PLLC–Conviction Set-Aside Attorneys

Because benefits exist to set-aside a conviction, it is important to consult with experienced attorneys. Huss Law, PLLC founding attorney, Jeremy L. Huss, has been practicing Arizona criminal law for over 20 years. Mr. Huss spent nearly 13 years as a prosecutor and is as knowledgeable as any criminal attorney in Arizona. Contact Huss Law, PLLC to determine eligibility to proceed with an application to set-aside.

Looking up at ceiling of white courthouse in the middle of 4 pillars where a conviction may be set-aside

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