Are Criminal Records Public In Arizona?
Criminal records in Arizona are public and can be accessed in several local law enforcement and court databases in accordance with the Arizona Public Records Law. Individuals are allowed to request personal criminal records, while employers may also access criminal histories of current or potential employees.
However, criminal records that have been expunged are prohibited from public access. Juvenile records are only released to criminal agencies or other selected agencies and approved persons on a need-to-know basis under Arizona statutes and relevant federal laws. Criminal records of specific juveniles may be released to the public only when there is a proper authorization or by court order in line with section 8–208 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
What Is Included In A Criminal Record In Arizona?
A criminal record is an official document detailing all the criminal activities of persons named on the document along with convictions. The document is often referred to as a rap sheet and contains the description of events surrounding the convictions listed in it.
In Arizona, the information contained in a criminal record includes:
- The subject’s full name and known aliases
- Biographical information such as age/date of birth, sex, and race
- Mugshots and fingerprints
- Details of past and current criminal offenses and indictments
- Previous and outstanding arrest warrants
- Inmate records
How To Look Up My Criminal Record In Arizona?
In line with Arizona Revised Statutes 41–1750, criminal justice agencies in Arizona are mandated to submit arrest records and disposition information to the Central State Repository. Arizona’s central state repository for criminal records is the Criminal History Records section of the Department of Public Safety (AZDPS). The AZDPS restricts access to criminal records to authorized individuals and agencies.
To obtain a criminal record from the Criminal History Records Section of the AZDPS, follow this procedure;
- Submit a complete set of legible rolled fingerprints. Fingerprints can be taken from an authorized local, county, state, or federal law enforcement agency. Persons may download and print the Fingerprint Card provided on the AZDPS website for use at the law enforcement agency taking the fingerprints.
- Ensure to state “Record Review” under the reason fingerprint option on the fingerprint card.
- Complete the Record Review Contact Information Sheet
- Persons represented by an attorney must include a notarized letter of authorization from the subject.
Note that no fees are required to obtain a criminal record and ensure that the completed fingerprint card is not bent or folded. Mail completed fingerprint card, the record-review contact information sheet, and notarized authorization letter (if applicable) to:
Arizona Department of Public Safety
Criminal History Records Unit
PO Box 18450
Phoenix, AZ 85005–8450
Requesters will receive a copy of their criminal record by mail within 15 days of the AZDPS’ receipt of the record review packet at the address provided on the contact information sheet. For more information about obtaining criminal records or on requesting a record review packet from the Criminal History Records Section, call at (602) 223–2229 or (602) 223–2222, respectively. Calls may be made between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Arizona?
Obtaining a criminal record is free in Arizona. The Criminal History Records Section of the Arizona Department of Public Safety is the central repository of criminal records in the state. The Section provides free access to authorized individuals and agencies to obtain a criminal record.
Note that one of the requirements for obtaining a criminal record is to complete a fingerprint card. However, fingerprinting may attract a fee at any of the authorized local law enforcement agencies where it is done. To obtain criminal records for free, visit:
Arizona Department of Public Safety
2320 N 20th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85009
How To Search Criminal Records Online In Arizona?
The Criminal History Records Section of the Arizona Department of Public Safety does not provide remote online access to criminal records in Arizona. However, the Arizona Judicial Branch provides an online resource to access records of criminal proceedings from courthouses. Persons may use the publicly accessible case search tool to find criminal case records.
To use the tool, requesters must provide either the name of the offender or the case number. Requesters may use the court option to limit results to cases origination from a particular court. The tool also offers a printer-friendly version for requesters to print search results. However, not all courts contribute proceedings to the Arizona Judicial Branch Database. Non-contributing courts are published on the Unavailable Courts page of the branch’s website. Individuals may also use the public access terminals located at Arizona courthouses to view criminal case files. Note that records accessed from both public access terminals and the Arizona Judicial Branch websites may not suffice in place of certified criminal records.
Persons may also access criminal case records and documents that are unrestricted through the web-based portal called eAccess. eAccess provides access to records filed at the superior court on or after July 1, 2010. It also has a unique function of electronically certifying documents and verifying the authenticity of certified documents. A full list of all participating courts is provided on the eAccess page of the Arizona courts website.
The eAccess portal is available always but requires registration before use. Individuals need a valid email address, phone number, and credit card to register. Registered users are allowed to preview the first page of an available document at no charge. However, full documents on the portal may be downloaded for a fee of $10 each. Alternatively, users may purchase a recurring monthly subscription, which allows a specific number of document downloads per month.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple record(s). To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Get Criminal Records Expunged/sealed In Arizona?
Unlike several states in the United States, Arizona does not have a regular process for expunging or sealing criminal records. Under Arizona Admin. Code R13–1–102, convictions remain on record until an offender reaches the age of 99 or a year after the Department of Public Safety receives notice of the offender’s death. Arizona only permits two exceptions to allow for record sealing; cases where an offender was wrongfully accused, or an offense committed as a minor on felony probation. Outside of these two exceptions, Arizona only offers post-conviction relief in the form of a legal process called “setting aside”; that is, a person’s conviction is set aside.
Under A. R.S 13–905, Arizona citizens with criminal records are permitted to set aside a conviction which may also be considered a legal equivalent of having a criminal case dismissed. Although a conviction that has been set aside remains on a criminal record, a set-aside ruling will appear next to it when background checks are conducted. In essence, setting aside a conviction only cancels or revokes the conviction but does not erase it.
To qualify for setting aside a conviction, the offender must have fulfilled the terms of the sentence for the crime committed. Such sentences maybe jail time, parole, a probation period, imposed fines, or special court rehabilitation programs. Several felony and misdemeanor crimes, including Arizona driving offenses such as DUI, may be set aside. However, persons who have been sentenced to prison or convicted of two or more felony crimes are required to wait two years before petitioning the court for a set-aside.
Arizona does not permit anyone to have their convictions set aside regardless of the offense(s) committed. In line with A. R. S. 13–905, certain convictions are exempt from record relief. Such crimes include:
- Sexually motivated offenses or offenses that requires an offender to register as a sex offender
- Offenses committed where the victim was under the age of 15
- Offenses involving the violation of a local ordinance related to standing, stopping, or operation of a vehicle
- Offenses related to driving on a suspended or canceled license
- Offenses related to the use of dangerous instruments or deadly weapons
- Offenses involving a serious bodily injury
Unfortunately, setting aside a conviction comes with limitations. Persons who have successfully set aside a conviction are still obliged to disclose an arrest when seeking employment. Since a set-aside ruling does not dismiss an arrest, an offender runs the risk of perjury if the arrest record associated with a conviction that has been set aside is not disclosed during an employment application.
Arizona may still refer to convictions that have been set aside in prosecutions for future offenses. The ruling does not also affect the penalties which the Department of Transportation may impose if an offender’s driver’s license is revoked. Persons who have obtained a set-aside on a second felony are not automatically eligible to have their civil rights restored. For instance, a separate petition process must be undertaken to have the right to vote or own a gun restored.
The process of getting a conviction set aside in Arizona begins with the applicant completing an Application to Set Aside Conviction form. Completed forms may be accompanied by supporting documents such as a Certificate of Absolute Discharge from imprisonment, proof of discharge from probation, or other proofs of rehabilitation or change of circumstance. Applicants are required to file the original Motion with the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the conviction occurred and ask for three stamped copies of the Motion. The stamped copies are referred to as “conformed copies,” which serve as proof that the original copy was filed.
One conformed copy must be delivered to the judge assigned to the case while another copy must be delivered to the County Attorney. Persons who choose to process their Motion by mail must include two envelopes with the proper amount of postage for processing. One postage-paid envelope must be self-addressed for delivering the records. The other postage-paid envelope must be addressed to the County Attorney.
The third conformed copy will be sent to the judge by the Clerk of Court’s office. Afterward, the applicant must await the notification of the judge’s decision on the petition. The judge weighs several factors in determining whether to deny or grant a request. Such factors include:
- The age of the applicant at the conviction
- Compliance with the terms of sentence or probation
- The type of conviction and the circumstances around the conviction
- Previous and pending convictions since the current conviction for which a set-aside is sought
- What the victim(s) of the conviction want to happen
- Whether the victim(s) of the crime have been fully paid due restitutions
- How much time has passed since the sentencing
Applicants are advised to contact the court clerk of the superior court in the county where the petition will be submitted to determine whether additional forms are required and to verify applicable filing fees. Application forms should also be confirmed with the superior court clerk as variations may apply in different Arizona counties. Note that for persons convicted in a federal court, an Arizona court does not have the power to set aside the conviction.
Who Can See My Expunged Records In Arizona?
Under the post-conviction relief provided in Arizona (A. R. S. 13–905),, persons with convictions do not have their convictions erased or removed from their criminal records. The provisions of the statute mean that
- The court sets aside the judgment of guilt,
- Dismisses the charging document, and
- Orders that the offender be released from all penalties and disabilities arising from the conviction
There is an exception here for certain penalties of the Department of Transportation and Game and Fish Commission.
The law does not require convictions that have been set aside to be removed from an individual’s criminal record. Therefore, obtaining a set-aside ruling will not prohibit the public from accessing such convictions. However, the criminal record will note that an individual has had the conviction vacated or set aside.
Still, on applications that require a person to state prior convictions, an individual that has had a conviction set aside must disclose the conviction but may state that the court’s decision has been vacated and the charges dismissed. Consequently, even though a potential employer knows that a person was at one time charged with a crime by Arizona courts, there is proof that the individual has satisfied all the conditions of the court and that a qualified judge agreed to set aside the related conviction.