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What does it mean to have a conviction an Arizona "set aside?"

After a person convicted of a crime has served his or her time and is released, it should be the case that he or she is able to move forward on a clean slate. Unfortunately, when it comes to state felony convictions, this is not always the case.

Having a felony on one's criminal record could make it difficult to find housing and employment, two essential components of life. For this reason, this state allows people to have their convictions "set aside," which restores their civil rights, including the right to own a firearm.

A set aside cancels or revokes a person's judgment. While the original order is still available, in general, it has been altered. A set aside differs from expungement. If something is expunged, it wiped out completely. When something is set aside, it is not necessarily wiped out, but it is changed.

In Arizona, a set aside does not destroy the person's criminal record. If asked, say, on a job application whether there has been a prior conviction, the person must disclose it. But, the person can also report that the court's decision was vacated, and the charges against him or her are dismissed. Therefore, while per law, a set aside cannot remove a conviction from one's criminal record, the criminal record must disclose that the decision of the court has been set aside.

For this reason, many Arizonans may wish to have their criminal records set aside. However, they may not know exactly how to go about it. Fortunately, criminal defense attorneys are available to help.

Source: AzLawHelp.org, "Setting Aside Convictions And Restoring Civil Rights," accessed on July 30, 2017

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