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Reasons to Restore your Civil Rights in Arizona

Arizona is cracking down at the voting polls to prevent voting fraud and ensure that all voters are legally allowed to vote. This means that having a filled out government issued voter registration form may no longer be sufficient at the voting polls. Additionally, if you have a committed an offense that resulted in the loss of your civil rights, then you may only be able to vote by restoring your civil rights. Restoring your civil rights in Arizona may restore your right to vote, your right to serve on a jury, and/or your right to hold public office.

Restore your Arizona voting rights

Arizona voting rights photo by Steve Depolo”

Current Arizona Law Regarding Civil Rights

Currently in Arizona, there are a few limitations on voting or serving on a jury. If you were convicted of one felony, your civil rights are automatically restored, provided that you have completed your probation or received an absolute discharge from imprisonment, and that you paid any fines owed to the court. If you were convicted of two or more felonies, you may petition the court to restore your civil rights after successful completion of probation or receiving an absolute discharge from imprisonment. You must also be a resident of the jurisdiction where you are summoned to serve or registered to vote. Outside of those few limitations, most people have the right to vote or serve on a jury.

Though the Supreme Court has not mandated a law enforcing voters to show proof of identification, Arizona seems determined to enforce their own policies by enforcing that voters show proof of citizenship for state and local elections. According to NPR reporter Liz Halloran, Arizona is challenging the 1993 National Voter Registration Act that requires voters to “accept and use” a federal voter registration forms as proof of identification for voting by demanding that voters show a documentary proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or a passport.

Potential Problems with the New Voting System

While this new system is primarily problematic for voters without a birth certificate or passport, the rigid regulation is also problematic for those who have lost their civil rights and have neglected to restore those rights. Forgo the potential embarrassment of being turned away at the voting poles in the upcoming 2014 elections by petitioning to restore your Arizona civil rights.

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Cyberbullying in Arizona and the Law

The internet is often seen as a virtual reality, but it is a reality nonetheless. The activities that take place online can have serious legal ramifications. Any form of an online threat, harassment, or bullying is considered cyberbullying and may result in legal action, including a criminal record. As per Arizona State Legislature 13-2921 (A), a person commits harassment if, with intent to harass or with knowledge that the person is harassing another person, the person: 1. Anonymously or otherwise contacts, communicates or causes a communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses.

Computer used for cyberbullying

Cyberbullying on a computer


According to the Arizona Attorney General, “kids and teens no longer need muscles to bully and torment their peers,” adding that “some young people use websites, cell phones, instant messaging, chat rooms, blogs and social networking sites as options to harass, threaten and ridicule their peers.” Because cyberbullying is taken very seriously, and can even become an offense on your criminal record, it is vital to know what may constitute as cyberbullying.
Here are some examples to help discern between innocent joking and cyberbullying:
-Sending threatening or mean emails or messages
-Posting and/or created malicious videos, pictures, websites, and/or fake social media profiles
-Posting or sending slanderous content or rumors
-Impersonating someone else online

Consequences for Cyberbullying in Arizona

Cyberbullying in Arizona may lead to serious consequences. The consequences vary depending on the actions taken during the cyberbullying incident. For example, cyberbullying may result in the following criminal charges:

  • Hacking
  • Identity theft
  • Stalking
  • Blackmail

All of the aforementioned crimes may lead to a criminal or even a federal conviction, the punishment for which may include owing a fine, jail time, a prison sentence, and/or a criminal record. If the cyberbullying takes the form of threats including lewd act, or threats of inflicting physical harm to a person or property, the consequences may also result in legal action. Arizona State Legislature 13-2921 is not meant to infringe on 1st Amendment rights, but instead is suppose to protect individual who are victims of cyberbullying and cyberstalking. As such, “freedom of speech” does not protect those whose words are laced with malicious or deleterious intentions.

Generally, cyberbullying laws are geared toward children, addressing how school administrators should handle incidences of cyberbullying, on and off campus. If, however, the incident of cyberbullying leads to criminal action, then the person accused of cyberbullying may end up with a criminal record, or in this case juvenile record.

How to Clear a Cyberbullying Criminal Record in Arizona

While cyberbullying may make it easier to bully or harass others, it also may make it easier to catch the person doing the harassing. The internet makes it possible to trace links locating the person sending the ill-intended messages, and stores copies of evidence that can potentially incriminate the cyberbully. Cyberbullying, like a criminal record, permanently stays on the individual’s record.

Generally, once a text or an image is online, it will remain online forever and is very difficult to remove. Fortunately, unlike your cyber record, your criminal record can be expunged, which will allow you to legally deny any occurrence of the cyberbullying conviction and related case. Once your cyberbullying conviction is expunged, you can tell anyone – including potential landlords and employers – that you were not convicted of the crime. If, however, you should ever have to disclose your cyberbullying conviction, expunging your conviction will allow you to say that though you were convicted of cyberbullying that the Arizona court of law has expunged your criminal record, and thereby deemed you worthy of a second chance.

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How to Get your Pima County Criminal Record

If you have a criminal record in Pima County, you may be able to have your record cleared by having your offense set aside or sealed. The remedy that is used to clear your record will depend on the nature of the offense and your sentencing. Once you have determined your eligibility and what type of record clearing is appropriate for your case, you can start the record clearing process, which begins by getting your criminal record(s) and gathering information about your case. There are a few ways to get your Pima County criminal record.

For information on your individual case, you can contact the court clerk’s office of your respective courthouse, or you can get your records through the Department of Justice (DOJ) who also maintains copies of court documents. It is important that you prepare the information pertaining to your case that you need from the court clerks and customer service representatives prior to calling, such as

  • The name of the arresting agency
  • The date of your arrest
  • Your court case number
  • The class of your offense
  • The date of your final disposition
  • The date that you successfully completed probation, if applicable

The more information you have to offer will help the court clerk and costumer service representative to locate your case as quickly as possible. Also be prepared to give the person assisting you your full legal name, your date of birth, and as much information about your case as possible.

The contact information for the DOJ in Pima County is:

  • 405 W. Congress Street, Suite 4800
    Tucson, AZ 85701-5040
    (520) 620-7300

Hiring an Attorney to Conduct Research for Your Case

While you always have the option to conduct research on your own, it is highly advisable to hire a licensed attorney to conduct research for you. An attorney who specializes in Pima County record clearing will be familiar with the county’s courthouses and the Tucson DOJ, and will therefore be able to confidently gather prepare all of the research necessary for your case. An experienced attorney will also know what is necessary to prepare your case and knows what information is needed to file out vital court documents such as the motion for the record clearing.

When looking to hire an attorney, make sure that the attorney is licensed by the Arizona State Bar, that the attorney specializes in Pima County record clearing, and that the attorney, or firm, has earned an A rating with the Better Business Bureau.

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Expunging a DUI in Arizona

If you have been convicted of a DUI, you already know of the many consequences that accompany having an alcohol related offense on your criminal record. Fortunately, as per the Arizona Revised Statute 13-907, you may be legally entitled to expunge, or “set aside,” your DUI removing any finding of guilt by dismissing your DUI case, resulting in no conviction on your criminal record thus “releasing you from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction.”

Being released from the “penalties and disabilities” of your Arizona DUI means that you no longer have to worry about having the DUI appear on most criminal background checks, which may make it easier to find steady employment and desirable housing. In particular, expunging your DUI may make it easier to start a career working as an educator, a caregiver, or as an officer of the peace. Many eligible resumes never even make it to human resources because the applicant is unable to pass a background check. If you are fortunate to get an interview, you may still be denied the petition because most industries working with the general public, particularly with children or as a caregiver, are unable to employ former alcohol and drug offenders.

Arizona DUI Expungement Procedure

To expunge your Arizona DUI, you it is important that you prepare to represent your case to the judge by gathering evidence that speaks to the progress that you have made since your DUI. You must prove to the judge that you have completed all court ordered classes and that you have remained sober since your conviction. You may also provide testimonies of reputable community figures such as the head of your local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter, your employer, a professor, or family and friends. Though you may have attended court ordered classes and become rehabilitated since your DUI, expunging your DUI shows that a court of law has legally declared that you have earned a fresh start.

The only way to remove a DUI from your criminal record is to have the DUI expunged. Otherwise, the DUI will continue to haunt your professional and personal life. Expunging your Arizona DUI offers many benefits and can help you to start over in life by removing the DUI from your criminal record, making it is as though the DUI never occurred.

You can also read how to expunge a DUI in Arizona to learn more.

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How to Seal a Record in Maricopa County, Arizona

Maricopa County courthouse

Maricopa County courthouse photo by Ms. Phoenix

Maricopa County is the most populated county in Arizona with over 3,942,169 residents. While there is ample opportunity to find employment, there is also a great deal of competition in these major cities. If you have a criminal record, chances are that the candidate who is able to pass the criminal background check is going to be the one chosen for the position. Do not allow an offense of your past to haunt you present and future. If you have a criminal record in Maricopa County, you may be eligible to have it sealed, which may help you to pass background checks for employment and housing.

The first step that you need to take in sealing your record is to determine your eligibility. Your eligibility for record sealing is contingent on many factors. Generally, you may be eligible to seal an offense from your record if you have satiated the mandatory waiting period, have paid all fines owed to the court, are no longer on probation, and are not facing any additional charges. Once you have determined your eligibility, you will file the petition for your record sealing with the court that oversaw your original hearing as they are the same court that will have jurisdiction over your record sealing.

The Steps Required to Seal your Record

To file the petition, you will need as much information about your offense as possible such as

  • The name of the arresting agency
  • The date of your arrest
  • Your court case number
  • The class of your offense
  • The date of your final disposition
  • The date that you successfully completed probation, if applicable

To obtain information about your case, you can contact the court clerk’s office of your respective courthouse, or you can get your records through the Department of Justice (DOJ) who also maintains copies of court documents. The court clerks and customer service representatives of these agencies are very busy, so it is important that you are prepared to give them as much information as possible so that they can more readily locate your case, and be prepared to tell them what specific information you need.

The contact information for the Maricopa County Superior Court can be found on their website at http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov

To contact the DOJ for Maricopa County is:
Two Renaissance Square 40 N. Central Avenue, Suite 1200
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4408
(602) 514-7500

More information on setting aside a record in Arizona can be found in our how to guide.

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Phoenix Area Expungement

Graffiti

Photo by Kevin Dooley

If you have a criminal record in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe or anywhere in Maricopa County, you probably have realized that getting a job or apartment is tough to do in Arizona. Arizona makes its criminal records easy to find, which means background check companies are quick to show employers and landlords your embarrassing history.

But there is good news. Arizona’s setting aside law expunges the conviction by withdrawing the finding of guilt and changing the case from a conviction to a dismissed case.

Most criminal records in Maricopa County are eligible or will be eligible to be set aside (expunged). Once your set-aside is complete, employers and landlords will not have access to it. That is great news for you. Most background check companies used by employers and landlords will not show cases that are dismissed. That is more great news for you.

Having a conviction set-aside requires going back to the court where the conviction occurred and filing a motion. The court does not charge a filing fee. Yes, that is more good news. Your motion needs to convince the judge that you are rehabilitated, not a threat to society and that having your record set-aside would benefit you (and your family if applicable) and society.

Most offenses, including felonies can be expunged (set-aside)

The following offenses are not eligible:
• Involving the infliction of serious physical injury.
• Involving the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
• For which the person is required or ordered by the court to register pursuant to section 13-3821.
• For which there has been a finding of sexual motivation pursuant to section 13-118.
• In which the victim is a minor under fifteen years of age.

In violation of section 28-3473, any local ordinance relating to stopping, standing or operation of a vehicle or title 28, chapter 3, except a violation of section 28-693 or any local ordinance relating to the same subject matter as section 28-693.

It is possible to apply for expungement without an Arizona expungement attorney, but an attorney can often get it done faster and with better results. Maricopa Superior Court is notoriously difficult. According to attorney Melissa Clark, about 70 of request are denied if they are made within 7 years of the conviction. Ms. Clark says that other courts in Maricopa are much more expungement friendly.

Most expungement attorneys charge around $700 to set-aside a conviction in Arizona. If you do not have an lawyer you are happy with, look for one that has an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

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