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March 30, 2024

Restoring Your Civil Rights After a Felony Conviction in Arizona

Being convicted of a felony in Arizona can have far-reaching consequences that extend well beyond simply serving a sentence of incarceration or probation. One of the most significant collateral consequences is the loss of certain civil rights and privileges.

When you are convicted of a felony offense in Arizona, you automatically lose several key civil rights, including:

- The right to vote
- The right to serve on a jury
- The right to hold public office
- The right to possess a firearm

Having a felony on your record can also make it extremely difficult to find employment, housing, obtain certain professional licenses, and secure loans or lines of credit. The consequences of a felony conviction are indeed severe and long-lasting.

However, it is possible to have your civil rights restored and regain most of the rights and privileges you lost after completing your entire felony sentence. Here's an overview of the rights restoration process in Arizona:

Absolute Discharge from Imprisonment (Rights Restoration)

In Arizona, you become eligible to apply for a restoration of your civil rights (known as an "absolute discharge") once you have been absolutely discharged from any felony offense for which you were imprisoned, pardoned, or have had your rights otherwise restored.

This means you must have fully served any term of imprisonment imposed for your felony offense, including any period of probation or parole. Once you have completed your entire felony sentence, the rights restoration process begins with submitting an application to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry.

Along with the application, you will need to include:

- A certified copy of the court order, action of pardon, or certificate of absolute discharge
- A full set of fingerprints
- Payment of all applicable fees and fines related to your case

If your application for absolute discharge is granted, you will have the following civil rights automatically restored:

- The right to vote
- The right to serve on a jury
- The right to hold certain public offices and employment positions
- The right to obtain certain occupational and professional licenses

However, your right to possess a firearm is not automatically restored. For that, you would need to apply for a judicial pardon or set aside (also known as an expungement) of your felony conviction.

Set Aside / Expungement of Conviction

In addition to applying for an absolute discharge to restore some civil rights, Arizona law also allows you to petition the court to have your felony conviction set aside and expunged from your record. This process essentially clears your criminal record as if the conviction never occurred.

To be eligible for a set aside, you must meet the following criteria:

- You have been convicted of no more than one felony offense in Arizona
- You have completed all terms of your felony sentence, including imprisonment, probation, fines, etc.
- You have paid all applicable fees and fines associated with your case
- You have maintain a clean record and have not been convicted of any other offense besides the one felony

If the court grants you a set aside and expungement, you regain all of your civil rights without exception, including the right to possess firearms. However, an expunged conviction may still appear on certain background checks for law enforcement, military service, and some sensitive occupations.

The expungement process can be complex, so it's advisable to seek assistance from a qualified criminal defense attorney. Regaining your full civil liberties is an important step towards fully reintegrating with society after a felony. Don't let a past mistake permanently limit your rights and freedoms.

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Don’t know where to start yet? It is necessary to find yourself a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer who will help you navigate through better. Speaking with an experienced assault attorney will explain to you the available options and assist you in getting the best possible outcome.

For any charges that need an attorney to help, reach us on 520-510-0439, 177 North Church Avenue, Suite 600, or send us a mail at [email protected]. Our crime attorneys in Arizona and Tucson are dedicated to helping clients achieve the best possible outcomes in their cases. We do this by negotiating with the government, preparing for trial, and litigating motions to suppress evidence. Assault is a serious crime that could result in jail time and other penalties. Let us help you avoid these consequences as much as possible.

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