Rights Restoration & Background Checks

Many people ask questions about background checks after they have restored their rights. Does your crime show on background checks still? What do you say when a background check asks if you've been convicted of a crime? How do you buy a gun after your rights are restored? What can you do if you still fail background checks after your rights restoration? Read more to learn how your rights restoration affects any background checks you need to do in the future.

Will my conviction still show on background checks?

This can depend on whether you did an expungement or set aside. We’ll outline each type.

Set Aside Rights Restoration

Most convictions are only eligible for what is called a set aside. To put it in simple terms, a set aside is when the court dismisses the conviction. Doing so will grant your rights back to you and the record will show that it was set aside or dismissed. Any background checks you have, the case will be visible but will be notated as being set aside or dismissed.

Expungement Rights Restoration

In 2020 Arizona voters passed the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (SSAA), known as Prop 207 at the time. This bill made it legal for adults over 21 to possess, cultivate, and use marijuana. SSAA also provided an avenue for individuals to expunge eligible marijuana convictions on the premise that they shouldn’t have ever been convicted of the crime to begin with since it’s no longer illegal. Expungements are different from set asides in the fact that an expungement essentially removes the conviction from your record. The court seals the case and it will no longer show up on background checks at all.

After my rights are restored is there anything I need to do?

In most cases you won’t need to take any further action. A.R.S. § 13-906 requires that the court notified DPS of the updates and DPS is supposed to update criminal databases accordingly. The reason we say “supposed to” is because this doesn’t always happen. We have seen some clients fail the 4473 background check while trying to buy a firearm after their rights had been restored. We can help if you continue to fail background checks. Please contact us to learn more.

What do I write on my background check forms when it asks if I've been convicted of a crime?

After your set aside or expungement, you can check “no” on any background check forms asking if you’ve been convicted of a crime assuming you don’t have any other convictions that haven’t been set aside or expunged. This applies to private background checks such as those performed by employers in addition to government background checks such as when you purchase a firearm.

What if I continue to fail background checks after my rights restoration?

It’s an unfortunate fact that some people will continue to fail background checks because either the court did not notify the Arizona Department of Public Safety or even that DPS didn’t update databases like they should have. Fortunately though, there are options for you if this happens that we can help with. Contact us to learn more.

My felony conviction was dropped to a misdemeanor after I completed my sentence but I still fail background checks.

The courts will sometimes offer to drop your felony conviction down to a misdemeanor upon the completion of your sentence. Unfortunately though, they often don’t update databases accordingly. If this happens then you will continue to fail background checks because a felony conviction will show. If you find yourself in this situation, contact us to learn more about how we can help get this resolved for you.

John Furman

About the author:

As a manager at AZ Rights Restoration, John Furman is a strong supporter or the individual freedoms and liberties the Constitution guarantees. 

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