A criminal record can be a bar to certain types of employment, licensing, holding public office, and even the right to vote. Most states allow for a process called expungement that will remove certain arrests or criminal convictions from the offender’s record.
Depending upon the laws of the state in which you live and the nature of the crime, you may be able to get an arrest or conviction sealed or erased from your legal record. After the expungement process is complete, you will not need to disclose the conviction on a job or school application, and in most instances no record of the arrest or conviction will show up during a public records inspection or background check commonly done by potential employers, landlords, and educational institutions.
An expunged arrest or conviction may not be completely erased, however, and ordinarily will remain an accessible part of a person's criminal record, accessible to certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is also known as a criminal record being "under seal." In some legal proceedings, an expunged conviction that is under seal may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.
Pursuant to ARS 13-4051, Arizona residents who have been wrongly arrested, indicted, or charged with a crime may petition the superior court that a notation be made on all records of any agency relating to the arrest, indictment, or charge that the person has been cleared. The court will hold a hearing on the petition and if the judge finds merit in it, an order will be issued and delivered to all courts and law enforcement agencies.
If a mistake has been made on a criminal record, it can be challenged by completing the Review and Challenge of Arizona Criminal History Record Information form which is mailed with the results of the record review. The Central State Repository will conduct an audit and if a correction is necessary, will notify the FBI so that state and federal records will be synchronized. Both the audit and a copy of the corrected criminal record will be mailed to the requester, who will typically receive a response in 15 days. For a record review packet, go to the Arizona Department of Public Safety website.