Few things are more frustrating than having a criminal record that prevents you from gaining employment, housing, federal grants for school and other benefits. You may wonder if there is a way to clear your criminal history or expunge it.

Unfortunately, Arizona is not a state that allows for expungement except for juvenile offenders who have reached legal adulthood and meet certain conditions. However, it does offer another way to overcome the challenges of a record: judicial set-aside.

What is set-aside?

A set-aside is different than an expungement in that the convictions stay on your record, will still show up in a background check and are available for public search as a matter of protection. Instead, the court vacates the judgment of guilt for the charges as a way to show that you have left your criminal life behind.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for a set-aside, you must have no convictions of the following crimes:

  • Exhibition or use of a weapon
  • Severe physical injury to another person
  • Offense against a minor under 15 years old
  • Sexual crimes
  • Traffic violations during license revocation or suspension

You must also complete your probation, along with any programs, victim restitution or other mandates from the court as part of your sentence. If you meet the requirements, then you can fill out the required documents with the help of an attorney to avoid mistakes and turn them in to the county in which the conviction took place. For multiple offenses with separate case numbers, you will have to file paperwork for each one individually.

How does the court decide?

Eligibility does not automatically guarantee a set-aside. The judge will decide based on several factors, such as how long it has been since you finished your sentence, how old you were when you committed the crime and what other convictions you may have. The victim’s own input may even play a role.