On January 1 of this year, a new law went into effect, Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) § 13-911, that allows a person to seal the arrest, conviction, and sentencing records if the person meets certain requirements. If the court grants an applicant’s request to seal the records, the person will not have to disclose that they have been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime.
What does this mean for client’s who are not U.S. citizens? Nothing. The offense, even though a court has ordered it sealed, would still constitute a criminal conviction under immigration law, rendering a person deportable. This is because Arizona law, A.R.S. § 13-911, is narrow in its scope and immigration law defines “conviction” more broadly, in other words, differently from criminal law. While there are some criminal convictions that would not be considered “convictions” under immigration law, namely, if a court vacated the offense on due process grounds, a noncitizen would still disclose this information to immigration authorities. For more information about the Arizona law regarding sealing a prior offense and how it impacts a person’s immigration case, please contact our office.