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Is it possible to clear arrest records if no complaint was filed?

Phoenix, AZ |

Almost 20 years ago I was arrested in Arizona for 3 felony counts: marijuana possession, drug paraphernalia possession, and weapon offense ( for concealed weapon in vehicle). The drug charges state " no complaint filed" and the weapons charge was dismissed in court. I am currently applying for my medical residency and want to know if there is a way to remove the arrest records. Will they always show up on an FBI background check for medical licensing?

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Attorney answers 2


It is possible, pursuant to ARS 13-4051, but it's not an easy process. You have to sue the city in superior court and the superior court will hold a hearing and determine if you were wrongfully arrested or charged. A recent court of appeals case in 2010 expanded this to include situations where it would be unfair or unjust to keep an arrest, a charge, or a conviction on someone's record. Your case might fall into that because you've never been able to prove your innocence and now 20 years later you are still prejudiced with this on your record.

Attorney David Kephart is an experienced Criminal Defense Trial Attorney and Jury Consultant. He is the recipient of the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice President's Award and the recipient of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Commendation for Excellence in Trial Advocacy. His response to your question is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, does not create an attorney/client relationship, and does not create a right to continuing email exchanges.


I agree with my colleague - this is "possible" to answer your question. Likely, no. Easy, no. Cheap or free, no. Possible, yes. You should work with an attorney experienced in the court you were in and go from there.

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