The following was sent from the Arizona Bar Association to its members.
From: Dave Byers, Director, Administrative Office of the Courts
August 1, 2022
During the 2021 legislative session, SB 1294 was passed and was then codified as A.R.S. § 13-911. The provisions contained in this statute allow an individual who has a previous criminal arrest, charge or conviction to file a petition in the Court to seal the criminal case records of that arrest, charge or conviction. This statute has an effective date of December 31, 2022, and applies to most criminal violations.
In order for individuals to petition the Court to seal their criminal case records, they must complete all terms and conditions of the sentence imposed by the Court and file their petition after the waiting period designated in statute which is based on the level of violation they are seeking to have sealed. Unlike the expungement of records under Prop 207, the sealing of records under A.R.S. § 13-911 does not restrict access of the sealed records by law enforcement, prosecutors, and others who are performing specific types of background checks or clearances; nor does it restrict the use of sealed criminal case records in the assertion of prior arrests or convictions. What this new law does do is remove the case records from public access and allow an individual to state that they have never been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime that is the subject of the arrest or conviction, including in response to questions on employment, housing, financial aid or loan applications.
Forms and instructions to pursue sealing of criminal case records are now available. Eligible individuals may be seeking help with this new process and its related forms. I write to draw your attention to this new law because individuals may need assistance in locating case records and completing the necessary paperwork to complete the process.
Similar to Prop 207, there is no way to predict what the public response will be to this new law. Regardless of the number, because this is a new process, I want to make you aware of the law and procedure so that you can consider providing services to those seeking assistance. To help your efforts, please see the Administrative Office of the Court’s website for information, forms, and more. Those resources are available at https://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/criminal-law/sealing-records.
Director, Administrative Office of the Court