Restoration of Rights

Restoration of Rights in AZ – FAQ

Q: How do I get my record expunged?
A: Arizona does not allow adults who have been convicted of felonies to get their criminal records expunged or sealed. People who complete their sentences are eligible to get their convictions “set aside,” but this is not the same as expungement. Convictions that are “set aside” still count as prior convictions for sentencing enhancement, and can still prevent people from getting jobs, fingerprint clearance cards, etc.

Q: Which convictions cannot be set aside?
A: Dangerous nature offenses, sex crimes requiring sex offender registration, crimes involving a sexual motivation, driving with a revoked or suspended license, and reckless driving.

Q: What civil rights do I lose if I am convicted of a misdemeanor in Arizona?
A: None.

Q: What civil rights do I lose if I am convicted of a felony in Arizona?
A: All of a person’s civil rights are automatically revoked the first time they are convicted of any felony offense. This includes the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, the right to run for public office, and the right to bear arms.

Q: How do I get my civil rights restored after my first felony conviction?
A: The right to vote, serve on a jury, and run for public office should be automatically restored after you either complete probation, or receive a final discharge from prison. However, frequently a person’s civil rights are not automatically restored even though they should have been, so it is important to double-check the court file. A person’s right to bear arms is not automatically restored after a first conviction; they still need to apply to a Superior Court judge to get this right restored.

Q: How do I get my civil rights restored after my second or more felony conviction?
A: People who were sentenced to probation after having been convicted of two or more felonies can apply for set aside and restoration of all of their civil rights to a Superior Court judge, as soon as they are discharged from probation. People who were sentenced to prison after having been convicted of two or more felonies can apply for set aside and restoration to a Superior Court judge two years after their absolute discharge from prison.

Q: Can I get my civil rights restored in Arizona if I have an out-of-state conviction?
A: No. Arizona judges cannot restore civil rights or set aside convictions that result from out-of-state convictions. If you have a felony conviction from another state, you need to refer to the laws of that state, or contact a lawyer licensed to practice law in that state for assistance.

Q: Can I get my civil rights restored if I have a conviction in federal court?
A: Yes. Arizona judges can restore people’s civil rights under Arizona law, if their rights were revoked after a federal felony conviction. However Arizona judges cannot restore a person’s federal right to bear arms. This means that a person with a federal felony conviction can still be prosecuted in federal court for a federal firearms violation, even if their right to bear arms was restored by an Arizona state court judge.

Q: What are the other limitations on getting my right to bear arms restored?
A: If you were convicted of a “serious offense,” you must wait ten years after your absolute discharge from prison to apply to get your right to bear arms restored. If you were convicted of a “dangerous offense,” your right to bear arms can never be restored.

Q: Once I get my rights restored, am I automatically registered to vote?
A: No. After you get your rights restored, you still need to register to vote. Contact the Pima County Recorder’s office at 520-724-4350 for help registering.

Q: Once I get my rights restored, can I get a fingerprint clearance card?
A: It depends. Whether people get fingerprint clearance cards is usually up to particular employers. Getting your rights restored or your conviction set aside might not make you eligible for a fingerprint clearance card. Check with potential employers for more details.

Q: How do I go about getting my conviction set aside and my rights restored?
A: The Pima County Clerk of the Court has the necessary forms available on-line at http://www.cosc.pima.gov/home.asp?include=pages/criminalforms.htm
You can file these forms for free with the criminal clerk at the Pima County Superior Courthouse at 110 West Congress Street, Monday – Friday from 8am – 5pm.

Q: Can I get help filling out the forms and getting my rights restored?
A: Yes. Pima County Public Defense Services holds a free legal clinic every Wednesday from 9am – 12pm, and 1pm – 4pm. Lawyers are available at these times to help people get their rights restored. No appointments are necessary. The clinic is located in the office of the Pima County Public Defender, 33 North Stone Avenue, 21st floor. Call 520-724-6800 for more information.

Additionally, Pima County Public Defense Services hosts weekly, free and open to the public Legal Clinics.  These occur every Wednesday from 9am to noon and 1pm to 4pm at 33 N Stone, 21st Floor in the Public Defender’s Office. 

Legal Clinic Flyer (English & Español)