criminal defense

Arizona Expungement Laws

In Arizona, state law permits certain individuals who have arrests, criminal convictions or sentences on their permanent records to have these records sealed or expunged. This law has been in effect since December 31, 2022, replacing what used to only allow for the setting aside of criminal records.

What Is Criminal Record Expungement?

Expungement is a legal process that allows someone who has a prior criminal conviction on his or her record to erase or seal it from public view. Record expungement can give an individual a fresh start, free from stigmas and challenges that are associated with having a criminal record in Arizona.

The many benefits of record expungement include:

  • Passing background checks
  • Additional employment opportunities
  • Eligibility for professional certifications and licensing
  • Greater access to housing
  • Improved access to educational opportunities
  • Eligibility for certain types of government financial assistance
  • Restoration of civil rights, such as the right to vote
  • Personal benefits from leaving the stigma of a criminal record behind you

When a record is expunged or sealed in Arizona, it cannot be accessed by the general public. It will no longer be visible to employers or landlords. However, the record of its existence will remain with government officials and the court system. An expunged record could still be used as an element in a subsequent criminal case against you, for example.

Who Is Eligible for Expungement in Arizona?

Not everyone qualifies for criminal record expungement in Arizona. You must meet a specific list of requirements and petition the courts to grant your expungement request.

Under Arizona Revised Statute 13-911, you may be eligible for record expungement if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • You were arrested for a criminal offense but no charges were filed.
  • You were charged with a crime but the charge was subsequently dismissed or resulted in a not-guilty verdict at trial.
  • You were convicted of a crime and have since completed all of the terms and conditions of your sentence, including paying all fines, fees and restitutions ordered in full.

Not all criminal offenses can be expunged. Certain violent crimes, sex crimes, crimes involving deadly weapons or dangerous instruments, class 1 felonies, and offenses that involve knowingly inflicting serious bodily injury on another person may not be sealed or expunged in Arizona.

Waiting Period for Expungement in Arizona

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for criminal record expungement in Arizona, you must also complete the waiting period. State law enforces the following mandatory waiting periods after the completion of a criminal sentence before an individual is permitted to petition the courts for expungement:

  • 2 years: low-grade misdemeanors
  • 3 years: class 1 misdemeanors
  • 5 years: class 4, 5 or 6 felonies
  • 10 years: class 2 or 3 felonies

If this is not the individual’s first felony conviction, a prior record adds an additional five years to the waiting period listed above. Two or more prior felony convictions bar an individual from petitioning for expungement until the required time period has passed for each conviction.

Speak to an Expungement Lawyer in Arizona for More Information

If you wish to expunge your criminal record in Arizona, start by consulting with a criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix can handle complicated and lengthy expungement paperwork for you, as well as represent you during any necessary hearings. Having an attorney help you request your expungement properly the first time can save you time and money.

You may not have to live with the consequences of past mistakes forever. If you are interested in expungement in Arizona, contact Corso Law Group for a free evaluation of your circumstances and eligibility. If you are eligible for record expungement, we can guide you through the legal process of sealing your criminal records for good.

Can a Felon in Arizona Own a Gun?

It is a federal law, not just a state law, that prohibits individuals who are convicted of felony crimes from owning guns. The right to bear arms is one of multiple civil rights that a convicted felon loses in Arizona, as well as the right to vote and travel to certain countries. However, you may be able to restore your right to own a gun in Arizona by having your record expunged or set aside.

Gun Ownership Laws in Arizona

Felons automatically become “prohibited possessors” of firearms under federal law. Anyone who is convicted, or found guilty, of a felony of any classification or type loses the right to gun ownership. This includes someone living in Arizona who was convicted of a felony crime in another state.

Federal law bans all convicted felons (and those indicted on felony charges) from purchasing, acquiring, possessing and distributing any type of firearm in all 50 states. It is also against the law for convicted felons to purchase or possess ammunition for firearms.

If a felon is found in possession of a firearm, even if it is not his or her gun, it can result in a class 4 felony charge under Arizona Revised Statute Section 13-3102. The penalty for a conviction can include a prison sentence of up to four and a half years.

Is it Possible to Restore the Right to Bear Arms as a Convicted Felon in Arizona?

Yes, certain eligible individuals can restore their gun ownership rights after being convicted of a felony in Arizona. This can be accomplished by having the felony conviction set aside, vacated or expunged.

Set Aside

A set aside is a legal process in which a court in Arizona makes a note on the convicted person’s criminal record stating that he or she has completed all of the sentencing terms and that the judgment of guilt has been set aside. The record will still exist and can be accessed by the public, however.


A vacated felony means that the court has pronounced a felony charge void or canceled. This may occur at the preliminary hearing stage or after a legal judgment has already been made. Either way, it will overturn or reverse the judgment, meaning it will no longer exist.


Record expungement effectively seals or erases a criminal record from public view. It prevents anyone except certain government officials, such as law enforcement officers and the courts, from accessing your criminal record.

Any of these legal processes, once completed, can reclassify you as someone who is not a prohibited possessor under federal and state law – effectively reinstating your right to bear arms.

How to Restore Your Gun Ownership Rights

Dealing with a felony arrest, charge or conviction in a way that allows you to restore your right to own a gun in Arizona requires specific legal processes. Different eligibility requirements apply to each possible solution. Certain types of offenses are not eligible for set-asides or expungement, for example, such as most violent crimes and sex crimes.

If you wish to explore your eligibility for the restoration of your civil rights as a convicted felon in Arizona, including the right to bear arms, start by consulting with a Phoenix criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can evaluate your case and list the options that may be available for regaining gun ownership rights. Then, your lawyer can fill out and file the required legal documents to begin the process for you.

Hiring an attorney can improve your chances of a court granting your request the first time around, which can save you time, money and stress. For more information about the laws surrounding gun ownership as a felon in Arizona or assistance with the record expungement process, contact Corso Law Group at (480) 471-4616 for a free consultation.

What Is Considered a Class 4 Felony in Arizona?

Arizona categorizes felony offenses into six different classes based on the severity of the crime. The smaller the number, the more severe the offense. A class 4 felony falls close to the middle of the spectrum. It is more severe than class 5 and 6 felonies, but less severe than class 3, 2 and 1 felonies. Many different crimes in Arizona are categorized as class 4 felonies.

Class 4 Felony Crimes in Arizona

In Arizona, there are infractions, misdemeanors and felonies, with felonies being the most serious type of crime. A felony conviction of any class can lead to a permanent criminal record, the loss of certain constitutional rights, and jail or prison time. The specific penalties and repercussions, however, depend on the class of the felony and other circumstances.

Nearly 100 crimes in Arizona can be categorized as class 4 felonies. Examples include:

  • Aggravated DUI: driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol if there are aggravating factors such as prior DUI convictions.
  • Burglary in the third degree: breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony if it is in the third degree, meaning it does not involve breaking into a home or using a deadly weapon.
  • Criminal damage: recklessly or intentionally damaging another person’s property if it results in more than $10,000 worth of damage.
  • Fraud schemes or forgery: white-collar crimes that involve knowingly defrauding others or forgery offenses.
  • Misconduct involving weapons: unlawful possession, use or carrying of weapons, including firearms and prohibited weapons.
  • Possession of dangerous or narcotic drugs: possessing substances that are classified as dangerous or narcotic drugs, such as cocaine, LSD, heroin and methamphetamine.
  • Robbery: theft that involves force or the taking of property directly from a victim.

A complete list of every crime that is categorized as a class 4 felony in Arizona can be found on the Arizona State Legislature website. This list includes certain racing, kidnapping, and aggravated assault violations, as well as attempt of a class 3 felony and negligent homicide.

How Are Class 4 Felonies Punished in Arizona?

The exact penalties that will be included in a sentence for a class 4 felony conviction depend on the case. Various factors can affect a defendant’s sentence, including his or her criminal history, whether the defendant is a first-time offender, the severity of the crime committed, and whether there are aggravating factors.

Arizona sets a prison sentencing range for each felony class. The range for a class 4 felony is between 1 and 3.75 years in prison for a first offense, in most cases. However, this range can increase to up to 15 years if a defendant has multiple prior felony convictions. Additional penalties can include fines and probation.

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help With a Class 4 Felony Charge?

If you are being charged with a class 4 felony in Arizona, it is essential to protect your rights by hiring an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can provide crucial assistance and a strategic legal defense to help you avoid the most serious penalties associated with your charge.

A lawyer may be able to negotiate the class 4 felony down to a class 5 or class 6 felony, for example, depending on the circumstances. Case dismissal or acquittal may also be possible. If you are convicted of a class 4 felony, your lawyer can work to minimize your sentence as much as possible.

Overall, an attorney can play a critical role in defending you and protecting your future if you have been charged with a class 4 felony offense. Contact the Corso Law Group to request a free consultation today.

Is There a Difference Between Being Arrested and Detained?

During a criminal case, the terms “arrested” and “detained” are often used interchangeably. However, these are two different situations with important legal distinctions. Whether you have been detained or arrested in Phoenix, your legal rights remain the same – including the right to remain silent and the right to have a Phoenix criminal defense attorney represent you.

What Is an Arrest?

An arrest means that law enforcement has taken a suspect into their physical custody based on probable cause that the individual has committed a crime. A person who has been arrested will not be released from police custody until he or she posts bail (if charged with a crime), the prosecution decides not to file charges, or the charges are dropped.

During an arrest, the arresting police officer must inform the individual of his or her Miranda rights. These are constitutional rights that include the right to remain silent, the warning that anything said can be used against the individual, and the right to an attorney. An arrest will typically involve placing the individual in handcuffs, after which he or she will be transported to a police precinct for booking.

At the police station, the individual will be fingerprinted and photographed. Then, the suspect will be held in custody pending bail proceedings or an arraignment hearing. Throughout the arrest and subsequent detainment in police custody, an individual is entitled to due process. This includes the right to fair treatment, the presumption of innocence, and the right to legal counsel.

What Does it Mean to Be Detained?

Being detained means an individual has been stopped by a police officer temporarily while the officer determines whether further action needs to be taken. To detain someone, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion that the suspect committed a crime, helped someone else commit a crime or is about to commit a crime. Note that “reasonable suspicion” is a lower standard than probable cause, which is the necessary standard to make an arrest. 

The purpose of detainment is to allow the police officer to gather information from the detained person. The officer may ask for the detained individual’s name, as well as where he or she is coming from, going from or what the person is doing. If the investigation gives the police officer probable cause or a justifiable basis to do so, the detainment can turn into an arrest. If not, the officer has an obligation to let the suspect go.

Questioning or detainment does not mean a person is under arrest or has been charged with a crime. Under Arizona law, a maximum of 48 hours of detainment is allowed before the police must decide to either make an arrest or release the individual. It is against the law for the police to keep someone in custody for longer than two days without formally charging him or her with a crime and making an arrest.

What to Do if You Are Arrested or Detained in Phoenix

While being arrested and detained both involve the restriction of your freedom, there are distinct differences you should understand during any type of encounter with law enforcement. If you get stopped by the police, use your right to remain silent. You are under no obligation to answer a law enforcement officer’s questions, other than to provide your name and address, if asked.

Verbally invoke your right to remain silent by stating that you will not answer any questions until you have an attorney present. At this point, ask the police officer if you are free to leave. If the encounter turns into detainment or an arrest for an alleged crime, continue using your right to remain silent and contact a criminal defense attorney at Corso Law Group as soon as possible to help you exercise your rights.

How to Challenge a License Suspension in Arizona

Your driver’s license may get suspended for many reasons in Arizona. A suspended license means you will not be allowed to operate your motor vehicle for a period of time. This could interfere with your job, responsibilities as a parent and many other aspects of life. It might be possible to challenge a suspended license and restore your driving privileges, depending on the circumstances. For assistance with an appeal hearing, contact an attorney at Corso Law Group.

Why Might Your License Get Suspended in Arizona?

There are administrative and criminal driver’s license suspensions. An administrative license suspension comes from the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) to penalize a driver for moving violations or traffic infractions, while a criminal suspension comes from the criminal courts after a conviction as part of the defendant’s sentence.

Several offenses could lead to your driver’s license being suspended or revoked in Arizona, including:

 A driver’s license suspension could last 90 days, 180 days, one year or longer. During the suspension period, you legally cannot operate a motor vehicle. If you do and are caught driving on a suspended license, you could face serious penalties, such as a class 1 misdemeanor, probation, fines and surcharges, and even jail time.

What to Do if Your Driver’s License Gets Suspended

If your driver’s license gets suspended in Arizona, you can challenge it with assistance from a suspended license lawyer. Contact a lawyer right away, as you will have a limited amount of time in which to request an appeal hearing. Your lawyer will help you file an appeal to the Arizona License Appeal Board by submitting a written notice to the City Clerk. You generally must do this within 10 days of the suspension or revocation.

At this hearing, your attorney will present an argument as to why your driver’s license should not be suspended. This may involve challenging the underlying offense, such as filing for a dismissal of the case against you. Your lawyer can present witnesses and evidence at the hearing, if necessary, to strengthen your case and challenge the reason why your license is being suspended. A successful appeal could reinstate your driving privileges.

You may also benefit from an alternative to an appeal, such as seeking a restricted driver’s license. A restricted license can allow you to drive to certain approved locations during your license suspension, such as work, school, a hospital, substance abuse treatment or church. Your lawyer can help you understand whether you qualify for a restricted or hardship license after your driving privileges are suspended.

How to Reinstate a Suspended License

If you cannot successfully challenge your license suspension in Arizona, you can still reinstate your license once the suspension period has ended. This may require paying all outstanding fines and penalties and showing proof of SR-22 car insurance (a more expensive insurance policy for higher-risk individuals). You will also need to fill out the required application and pay the reinstatement fee.

For more information about how to challenge a license suspension in Arizona, contact us at (480) 471-4616 for a free consultation with an attorney.

Arizona’s New Gun Laws

Although Arizona has been deemed one of the most lenient states on gun control, new gun laws are still difficult to navigate and if not followed correctly, consequences can be severe.

How will Arizona’s new gun laws affect citizens?
Governor Doug Ducey recently signed two new gun bills which go into effect on August 6, 2017, one allowing guns to be closer in range to schools and the other, discipling cities with harsher gun laws than Arizona’s.

What is Senate Bill 1266?
This bill states that opposing local regulations which go against Arizona’s statute to withhold the power of regulating firearms within the state’s counties and cities will allow courts to fine those counties and cities up to $50,000. The individual involved can sue a county or city and be awarded up to $100,000 in damages.

What is House Bill 2338?
This bill denies K -12 all the way up to university school governing boards from “banning someone from legally possessing a deadly weapon on a public right of way adjacent to campus,” according to AZCentral.

While the state’s new gun laws may seem simple, the slightest mistake can result in trouble and in Arizona, weapon possession charges are prosecuted aggressively.

Weapons charges include:

  • Concealing a weapon illegally
  • Possessing a firearm or other weapon illegally
  • Prohibited possessor under Arizona law
  • Using a firearm or other weapon during a crime

In the state of Arizona, an experienced criminal defense attorney is necessary when it comes to weapon possession.


  • The knowledge and experience of an Arizona criminal defense lawyer who has dealt with similar cases is crucial in fighting for the best outcome.
  • You need a criminal defense lawyer who will protect your rights along the way.
  • Consequences can be severe including:
  • Expensive fines
  • Jail time
  • Prison

Our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience defending weapons charges in Arizona. Schedule your free consultation today and let us help you. Call (480) 471- 4616.

AAA Studies Reveal State’s THC Limits Have No Scientific Basis

In states where medical and recreational marijuana are legal, how much is too much when it comes to getting behind the wheel? In this post, we examine THC limits.

Recently, new data revealed that it’s difficult to put into place a DUI limit for marijuana stating that “legal limits, also known as per se limits, for marijuana and driving are arbitrary and unsupported by science,” according to the AAA Foundation for traffic safety.

As a result, the AAA Foundation suggests that legal limits for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), should be eliminated and police departments should train their officers to become certified drug recognition experts (DREs).

What would this mean to the public?
A DRE is there to prove that drugs are present in the defendant’s system. Just because a police officer is a certified DRE, doesn’t make him a medical expert. From a defense point of view, science trumps what a DRE says happened or what they saw while pulling someone over.

A highly qualified drug expert is still necessary as Marijuana DUIs can result in severe consequences. In Arizona, if the substance is recognized as a drug, it’s illegal to drive with it in your system. This ignites issues with the fact that marijuana lingers in one’s system.

How can a criminal defense lawyer help?
Although Arizona doesn’t have a set THC limit, this type of situation is still complex. In a marijuana DUI case, hiring an experienced Scottsdale defense lawyer is important. The right criminal defense lawyer will defend the rights of the client while aggressively and professionally defending their situation.

The way marijuana is treated by the courts is important for a defendant to understand. In a zero-tolerance state like Arizona, knowing the right steps to take is crucial.

Our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers handle cases like these everyday. We’re prepared, knowledgeable and known for our detailed defense strategies. During each step along the way we will treat with you with the respect you deserve, keeping you informed during the entire process.

It’s important to see what our other clients have to say about us too. Read our Corso Law Group reviews page for more information.

An Arizona marijuana DUI is not something that should be handled alone or by a public defender. Let us help. Schedule your free consultation today at (480) 471- 4616.

The True Cost of a Speeding Ticket

Have you ever received a speeding ticket? Did you wonder where the money went after you paid the ticket? Most likely you and many others in Arizona contributed tens of millions to government programs through unnecessary citation costs.

Instead of local and state taxes contributing to government programs, Arizona legislation has shifted the burden to those who have committed a crime.

Over the last two decades, Arizona’s state-mandated surcharges went from 56 percent to 83 percent, according to the Arizona Republic.

When you pay the state $95 for a speeding ticket, you’ll also be required to pay for programs and flat fees that could raise the price to as much as $243.

Because of these surcharges you’ll be paying:

  • $95 for the ticket
  • $79 for state programs
  • $13 for police training
  • $2 for a victim’s rights fund
  • $7 court-restitution fund
  • $27 for court technology
  • $20 for the county probation department.

Penalizing drivers with additional costs and surcharges should not be practiced by the state of Arizona. Government-run programs should receive their funding from taxpayers, without drivers picking up the remainder of the tab.

Along with the financial consequences, there also can be a personal impact from a criminal speeding ticket. In Arizona, a criminal speeding ticket is a class 3 misdemeanor. If you’re found guilty, every time you’re asked if you have a criminal record, you’ll have to answer “yes”.

At Corso Law Group, we understand the consequences and the true costs of a speeding ticket in Arizona. If you are charged with speeding, the lawyers at Corso Law Group will fight for you and obtain the best possible outcome.

Click for a free consultation or call (480) 471-4616.

Former Prosecutor Disbarred After Presenting False Testimony in Death Row Case

Texas remains third on the list of states with the highest number of death row inmates. But in 2015, new death sentences reached their lowest point since 1976. This was the year that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Texas’ revised death penalty statute. However, prosecutors are still fighting for unfair death-row sentences in a completely illegal manner. One recent case of false testimony illustrates this.

Anthony Graves was sentenced to death in 1994 for the murder of six people. He spent 18 years in prison, with 12 of those years on death row. But Graves wasn’t guilty and he wasn’t the right person to be sentenced to death.

Although Graves conviction was overturned in 2006, he wasn’t exonerated till 2010. Several pieces of evidence lead to his exoneration.

The prosecutor in Graves’ case, Charles Sebesta “failed to provide several items of exculpatory evidence to the defense during Graves’ trial, presented false testimony to the jury, made a false statement of material fact to the trial judge and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

Recently, the State Bar of Texas made the decision to disbar Sebesta. But yet, disbarring Sebesta can only go so far as to right the wrongs of Sebesta.

Corso Law Group knows the facts about death row sentences. They know why cases with certain evidence should be not be legal in the first place. In Graves’ case, the prosecution presented evidence that should have never been accepted.

Our firm seeks to fix this problem. It’s the main reason our criminal defense attorneys always fight for our client’s rights.

For life-altering, difficult situations, an experienced, aggressive defense attorney is crucial. Having a criminal defense attorney who also has prior prosecutorial experience is an advantage.

Our firm knows how prosecutors operate and we fight to defend your rights.

Graves experienced unimaginable suffering. He served 18 years in prison, thinking he was going to be executed for a crime he didn’t even commit.

Corso Law Group operates in a different way. Our focus is to help the person, not just the client.

Phoenix Officials Pushing for Body Cameras for All Patrol Officers

Body cameras for all Phoenix police officers might be on their way. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilwoman Thelda Williams have asked for all patrol officers to wear body cameras in the next three years.

However, this request comes with an expensive price tag. Last year, Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner said equipping police officers with body cameras would cost more than $3.5 million.

Despite the high price, Stanton and Williams are asking for the proposal to move forward due to the camera’s success in the Maryvale precinct.

In a memo to City Manager Ed Zuercher, Williams and Stanton said:

“In the areas where cameras were used, Phoenix saw significant drops in complaints against officers, more effective processing of cases in court and improved evidence in the prosecution of domestic-violence cases.”

If the proposal passes, behavior among police officers might improve. With the potential to make police officers more trustworthy and transparent, body cameras seem ideal. The body cameras seem a natural fit in the courtroom as well. In court, it’s usually the police officer’s word versus the defendant’s testimony. With body cameras on every officer, cases could change for defendants in the Valley. By using video evidence, cases will become clearer since video footage will be available for review.

Putting body cameras on all police officers could move Phoenix toward a new generation of policing by building trust between the officers and the communities they serve.

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