PHOENIX - A new Arizona law allows some people in the state to get their criminal records sealed, if they meet certain requirements.
"This allows them a second chance, a second chance at life, a second change to be able to get a job, be able to get employment, and not having this be held over their heads for the rest of their lives," said attorney Ben Taylor.
The new law it will allow some people to, after taking certain steps, seal their records from employers, landlords, and public view.
Who can qualify?
Taylor says a few groups of people qualify for the new law, including:
- Those convicted of a crime and completed all terms and conditions of the sentence.
- Those charged with a criminal offense that was later dismissed, or resulted in a "Not Guilty" verdict.
- Those arrested for a criminal offense, but no charges were filed.
What does the new law NOT do?
While the records those who benefit from the new law will be sealed from the public, Taylor says it doesn’t mean it will vanish, as judges, prosecutors and law enforcement will still have access.
Also, Taylor says a person has to apply to have their records sealed. In addition, each request for records sealing need to be approved, and judges won’t be approving everyone.
"If you have a murder conviction on your record, or you have a sexual assault conviction on your record, you will not be eligible for this," said Taylor. "Anybody can apply, but it will ultimately be up to the judge to decide whether or not to have your record sealed."
Taylor says some may not like the new law.
"Landlords, employers might not like this because they want to be able to investigate, and know whether or not their employee or a person who is renting from them has a felony conviction or an arrest," said Taylor.
Arizona man weighs in on new law
Chjris Martin has had a run-in with the law in his past.
"In 1995, I got busted with a joint playing baseball at Yavapai College," said Martin.
Martin's record was expunged through an earlier law directed at marajuana crimes, but he says before then, the felony ruined many parts of his life. He urges everyone who can to seek out a new lease on life.
"It does not have to define you," said Martin. "You can make a change and really go for what your goals are."
Attorneys say Arizona is actually behind the majority of states on this, as other states have had a version of this for several years.