In her years as a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, Belen Olmedo Guerra understands that most don’t truly understand how Arizona criminal records work. They may know that a criminal record brands you for the rest of your life, but most people believe this only applies to those who are convicted of their crimes. But this is not the case. The moment you are arrested or charged with a crime, it goes on your criminal record. Your conviction will be put onto the record separately, as would your acquittal or dismissal. Essentially, even if you are wrongfully arrested and never go to trial, there will still be a record of your arrest for potential employers and landlords to find. Belen will be able to tell you if you qualify for setting aside these records completely.
“What it comes down to is understanding the law,” says attorney Belen Olmedo. “And not very many people do. There is a process you have to follow, and you have to do it in the correct way, and at the correct time. People may think that setting aside a record isn’t worth hiring an attorney, but if it’s the difference between getting the record set aside and not getting it set aside, and a lot of the time it is, then it’s absolutely worth it to seek legal help.”
Belen says that nearly all juvenile offenses can be set aside: arrests, charges, and convictions. But there isn’t as much leeway for adults. “If you’re arrested and the charges are dropped or dismissed, we can usually set those aside,” says Belen. “Beyond that, things get a little complicated.”
According to Belen, convictions are generally more difficult to have set aside in Arizona. “There are some petty offenses they’ll allow to be set aside, as well as municipal offenses. Drug convictions can sometimes be set aside. But if there was an actual conviction, it’s going to be a case-by-case basis.” Belen says she will be able to tell her prospective clients details about whether or not they are likely to succeed in setting aside their criminal records if they contact her directly.
“These things have to be done in a very specific way,” Belen says. “There’s plenty of paperwork, and you have to make sure you get the right paperwork. You have to make sure you fill it out correctly and turn it into the right place, at the right time, and they don’t always make it easy for you.” Belen says that having an experienced lawyer by your side through this process gives you the best possible chance of having your record set aside.