Arizona keeps criminal records confidential. Only a handful of state-authorized agencies can access them. Individuals can request and review their own records, but these records aren’t available to third parties or agencies that aren’t approved by the state.
Criminal court records, however, are available to the public. The state has an online portal to access most criminal court case records.
Every state has different rules when it comes to requesting criminal records. Some keep records confidential, like Arizona, while others offer name-based or fingerprint-based searches to all agencies for a fee.
If you’re trying to review a criminal record, this guide will provide answers to frequently asked questions on the topic.
What is a criminal record?
In Arizona, once a person has been arrested, the person’s information is recorded in a police record. As the person moves through the judicial process, these pieces of information are recorded in a criminal record, which can only be expunged when the person is 99 years old.
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and police record. It is important to note that arrest records do not indicate culpability or admission to the felonies and/or misdemeanors they describe. They only provide proof that the individuals named were brought in for questioning and possibly detained afterward.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of Arizona, criminal records are only accessible to certain agencies and organizations. Criminal court records, however, are accessible to anyone through an online portal.
Why would someone access a criminal record?
People request access to criminal records for different reasons. In the state of Arizona, the myriad of reasons for requesting access to a criminal record are mostly for background checks. A landlord may run a background check on a new tenant, for example.
It is also not unusual for an individual to request their own criminal records. Sometimes, unsure of what the records are about them, an individual can request from the authorized agency for their criminal record. Arizona allows people to request their own records and offers a process to correct any problems found.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it’s considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is included in an Arizona criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, an Arizona criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, an Arizona criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
What is the difference between an Arizona arrest record and an Arizona criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for an Arizona criminal record?
The state of Arizona requires all justice agencies to report arrest and disposition information so it can be recorded on an individual’s criminal record. However, the law does not permit the agency to release the information to any third party or company.
Select agencies like daycares or government departments can request criminal records. To do so, the person must be fingerprinted and a request for the record must be submitted to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. More information on the process can be found on the state’s website. However, as mentioned, a person or company (that’s not state-approved) that’s looking to run a background check on someone does not have access to records.
A person can review his or her own criminal record for the sole purpose of reviewing it or looking for possible inaccuracies. To request your own record, you must fill out several forms, be fingerprinted, and send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Department of Justice. To get started, request a Record Review Packet by calling (602) 223-2222 or download the forms from the packet online.
How do I obtain a physical copy of an Arizona criminal record?
A physical copy of criminal records is only available to certain state-approved agencies or to the individual listed on the record. For more information, a person can call the Criminal History Records Section at (602) 223-222.
How do I search for Arizona criminal case court records?
Criminal case records in Arizona, like many other states in the United States, can be accessed online through the Arizona Judicial Branch. To conduct a search, you need to create an account and then you can search for a case by number or name.
The portal offers access to files from 177 of the state’s 184 courts. If you can’t find the court files that you’re looking for, the best way to access them is by visiting or calling the courthouse where the case was tried. The court clerk can help you access public records. It’s likely the clerk will ask you to fill out a public records request form. Once complete, the files can be emailed or mailed to you. In some cases, the court clerk may charge a small fee to copy or scan records.
Does Arizona allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
In Arizona, the criminal record of a person cannot be expunged. However, when a person’s history is already in the records, it will only be erased when they reach 99 years of age. While expungement is not possible, technically, a person can request for their record to be “set aside.”
A felony or misdemeanor conviction can be set aside, on request. To set aside a misdemeanor means the record shows that the convicted person fulfilled the conditions of their probation or sentence and that all the charges against them were dismissed and the court vacated the conviction.
How can I have false information on an Arizona criminal record corrected?
In some instances, a person may have incorrect information on their criminal records. If this is the case, there are ways in which it can be removed so that they are accurate. According to Arizona Statutes, a person can request a superior court to correct the files and clear the record. A person can also get any false information in their records corrected when they visit the Arizona Department of Public Safety and request a Record Review Pack.
If you request your own criminal record, a Review and Challenge of Arizona Criminal History Information form is sent with the record. If you find any issues, you can fill out the form and mail it in.
How long are Arizona criminal records kept on file?
In Arizona, if a person has been convicted of a crime, the record will stay on the file until they are 99 years old, after which the record will be erased from their history.