What rights are lost when a person is convicted of a felony?
A felony conviction suspends a person’s civil liberties. The person loses the right to vote, the right to hold public office of trust or profit, the right to serve as a juror and the right to possess a gun.
A felony conviction may also prevent a person from obtaining business and professional licenses, government secured loans and housing.
Can a person restore their Civil Rights lost because of a felony conviction?
Yes. A person with only one Arizona felony conviction will have any rights lost automatically restored upon completion of a term of probation, or receipt of an absolute discharge from imprisonment if the person paid all fines or restitution. However, this does not apply to the right to possess a firearm. To restore the right to possess a firearm, the person must file an application with Superior Court in the county where you were convicted. A person with two or more Arizona felony convictions must file the applications to restore their civil rights with Superior Court in the county where convicted. A separate application is required for each felony criminal case.
Setting Aside a Judgment of Guilt
Often people want to know if a criminal conviction can be “expunged.” At present, Arizona does not have a true expungement statute. Instead, a person can apply to have their conviction or judgment of guilt set aside.
In Arizona, a person who has been convicted of any criminal offense is eligible to apply to have their conviction set aside upon completing their probation or sentence so long as the conviction is not for a “dangerous offense” or another type of offense specifically excluded by § 13–907(D).
The effect of a successful application is that the Court will issue an order setting aside the judgment of guilt; dismiss the accusations; and release the person from all applicable penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction.
However, the conviction is not completely removed from your record. Instead, there will be a notation to the effect that the conviction was set aside or the judgment of guilt vacated.
Why Apply to Have your Conviction Set Aside?
Several benefits to having your conviction set aside:
- Providing a copy of the set aside order when applying for a job may satisfy any concerns of the potential employer about the conviction.
- The same goes for lease applications or any other application that requires you to check a box whether you were ever convicted, arrested, or charged with a crime.
- When applying to set aside your conviction you can also request the court to restore your civil and gun rights that were lost as a consequence to your conviction.
Restoring Gun Rights
Convicted of a felony offense that is neither serious nor dangerous? Generally you must wait two years after discharge from probation; or absolute discharge from prison to have your gun rights restored.
However, if the conviction is for a dangerous offense, you can never have your gun rights restored. A dangerous offense is one involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intention or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.
If convicted of a serious offense, you must wait at least 10 years after discharged from probation or prison to apply.
Serious offenses include:
- First degree murder;
- Second degree murder;
- Aggravated assault resulting in serious physical injury or involving the discharge; use; or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument;
- Sexual assault;
- Any dangerous crime against children;
- Arson of an occupied structure;
- Armed robbery;
- Burglary in the first degree;
- Sexual conduct with a minor under fifteen years of age; and
- Child prostitution.
Important Note: Gun rights in Arizona never automatically restore. If found to be in possession of a gun and your right to possess a firearm has not restored, police could charge you with Misconduct Involving Weapons, a class 4 felony. For a first offense, a class 4 felony carries a presumptive term of 2.5 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Contact a Restoration of Rights Attorney Today
To find out if you qualify to have your conviction set aside, contact us today to discuss your options. Our attorneys can assist with the application paperwork; as well as draft a custom memorandum that details the facts of your case; your personal background; and also, the reasons the court should set aside your conviction. Including a custom memorandum can be more effective and more persuasive than filing the paperwork alone.