Some people in Arizona may think that once a person is convicted of a crime and has served their sentence, they are then free to enjoy life in the same way as anyone else. However, this is often not the case. A person will have a criminal record following them that could affect their ability to get a job, find housing or obtain certain licenses or permits. Arizonans in such situations may wonder if there is any way they can rid themselves of a criminal record once their sentence is served.
Under Arizona law, criminal records are not expunged. Instead, they are "set aside." This means that there has been a cancellation or revocation of the judgment. However, the original is still accessible. This is different from an expungement, because when a criminal record is expunged, it's as if it no longer exists -- it has been destroyed. In a set-aside, the person's criminal record can still be accessed; it has not been wiped out.
This is significant because when a person has a criminal record, they may be barred from certain types of jobs, may not be able to get certain licenses or permits and it may affect their ability to find housing. In Arizona, if a person's conviction is set aside, that person still has to say on job applications, for example, that they have a prior conviction. However, due to the set aside, the person can tell a potential employer that their conviction was vacated and the charges against the person have been dismissed.
As this shows, there are benefits to having a conviction set aside. A criminal record can negatively affect a person's life, even after that person has served their sentence. This could make it difficult for a person to simply live their life. Without a job or a place to live, a person may find that their conviction is keeping them from enjoying even the basic necessities of life. While a set aside will not obliterate the original judgment, it is a way to show that the conviction was vacated, and the charges dismissed. This, in turn, could shift the focus of the background check to the person's positive attributes.