December 8, 2020 | By Chuck Franklin
An all too common concern we hear is whether an arrest or conviction appears on a background check. Other similar questions involve determining exactly how far-reaching a conviction goes.
Does it get reported to the State? Will my job find out? How can I get it removed?
All are great questions. Simply put, entering Arizona’s criminal justice system can mark you for life. Even the shortest brush with the law can leave you barred from student enrollment, housing, licenses, potential jobs, benefits, gun rights and fingerprint clearance cards. In this age of instant information, it is important to know how Arizona criminal convictions and arrests may impact you. This post explains those consequences may impact your job or student enrollment status.
Arizona’s Public Access Site
Arizona is very harsh on those individuals who have gone through the criminal justice system, that’s no secret. All Arizona criminal convictions, charges, and arrests appear on Arizona’s Supreme Court Public Access—a site that allows anyone to find informal on a criminal case. Many Arizonans are surprised to learn that arrests are too discoverable on this site, and that the site often times does not correctly reflect case dismissals, or non-guilty verdicts. Hence, if you are arrested and the case later gets dismissed, your arrest will show up on the Public Access site. Even worse, the dismissal to show the end of the case may not appear.
This may give the appearance that your criminal case is still ongoing. Even worse, to employers and potential employers, it may be incorrectly interpreted that you have done something wrong, merely because of the arrest alone. Michael Pinard, a Clinical Law Program Professor at Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law provides keen insight on the appearance of criminality for job applicants:
“They don’t understand that a particular charge did not result in conviction. Or they know, but find that this particular charge is offensive — they might look more at the charge than at the result. Others think that if a person has interacted with the criminal justice system, he must have done something wrong.”
There Is No Expungement In Arizona
Arizona does not recognize expungement. In other words, the State does not completely erase your record from any past Arizona criminal convictions or guilty adjudications. Nor does it recognize sealing records. Instead, the best you can do is request a set aside—where a judge reviews your case and formally sets aside your guilty judgment. Still, obtaining a set aside does not allow you to answer “No” when asked “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”
Jobs Requiring Fingerprint Clearance Cards
For employees who require a fingerprint clearance card, a conviction could result in job loss. Many professions, such as teachers and nurses, require these cards, issued after background checks are done by the Department of Public safety. Law enforcement agencies notify the Department after arrests, which can result in either a suspension of the card or a restriction at the least. For example, a nurse who is charged with domestic violence will usually then be reported to the nursing board. At that point, once the board finds out, the nurse may lose his or her job. The same goes for other professions such as teachers and engineers.
How Criminal Charges May Affect Your Student Enrollment
Arizona criminal convictions affect schooling as well. The three major colleges—Arizona, NAU, and ASU—all have student handbooks that may require students to inform their respective deans of any incidents leading to criminal arrests, charges or convictions. When notified of the incident, these universities have their own investigations and hearings to determine fault and punishment. I have done these hearings before.
Academic probation and expulsion are all options for the universities that point. The healthcare and nursing programs at Maricopa Community College healthcare may exclude a person from their enrollment who is convicted of any crime.
According to Arizona’s Department of Public Safety, over 44,000 people were arrested in Arizona. Unfortunately, many of those people will experience these harsh impacts first-hand. If you are facing charges from the State of Arizona, it is important to hire a competent attorney who knows the impacts of these charges. Don’t learn the hard way, contact Chuck Franklin Law or call (480) 545 – 0700.
Serving Arizonans since 1987.