Discover the Arizona Second Chance Law

There are plenty of states that have expungement laws on the books that allow for a previous criminal conviction to be erased from one’s record. Though Arizona does not allow for the 100% expungement and sealing of one’s record following a criminal conviction, the state is taking an important step in the right direction. Arizona’s Governor Ducey signed a law, known as the Second Chance law, that provides those convicted of crimes with the ability to transition to a fresh new chapter without a metaphorical black cloud hanging overhead. Below, we provide an in-depth look at the details of the law and explain what it means for Arizonans convicted of a crime.

Details About the new Law

The new law signed by Governor Ducey officially amends A.R.S. 13-905. If all of the statute’s conditions are met, the conviction can be set aside, empowering the prior offender to obtain what is known as the Certificate of Second Chance. In the context of the law, the words “second chance” mean all of the obligations under the judgment of conviction have been fulfilled, allowing for the conviction to essentially be set aside. Such a second chance no longer bars the prior criminal from earning an occupational license.

Are There any Caveats to the Second Chance Certificate?

Receiving a Second Chance Certificate is not complete and total forgiveness. The caveat to obtaining this certificate is it appears as a notation when background checks are performed. This notation indicates the conviction has since been set aside. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that an individual who desires the Second Chance Certificate in Arizona will actually receive it. There are all sorts of different factors that will be considered when determining if the prior criminal is eligible.

Rehabilitation Rather Than Punishment

The spirit of the Second Chance law as detailed above is to rehabilitate prior criminals rather than punish them for an entire lifetime. However, the statute has its limits. Those convicted of a dangerous offense, those required to register as sex offenders and those who commit a felony against a victim under the age of 15 are not eligible for a Second Chance Certificate. Even driving with a revoked or suspended license will prevent an Arizona resident from qualifying for a Second Chance Certificate. Furthermore, there is still an obligation to disclose prior convictions when applying for employment. It must also be noted the conviction is not permanently erased from the individual’s record.

It is quite clear that the objective of Arizona Second Chance law is to rehabilitate those who have committed criminal wrongdoings into becoming better people. It simply does not make sense to continue to punish someone years or even decades after a crime, especially if that crime did not involve sexual abuse or a minor.

Is Arizona’s Second Chance Law Sufficient?

The spirit of the law is certainly commendable. However, there is some question as to whether the law will have a significant impact on ex-offenders in Arizona. It is somewhat concerning that the law does not provide a full expungement or sealing of the individual’s criminal record. For the sake of fairness, it is important to note several other states now permit former criminals to fully expunge and seal their criminal records. However, Arizona is a comparably conservative state that does not hesitate to severely punish those convicted of breaking the law. Only time will tell if Arizona eventually amends the law to provide the full expungement and sealing of criminal records.