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Free legal clinic in Pima County offers aid with sealing AZ criminal records

On Tuesday, Aug. 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Pima County Public Defense Services is hosting  a free legal clinic — with the main purpose of helping people seal eligible criminal records. It is the last in a series of three free clinics. 

new law in Arizona has allowed people with eligible criminal records to petition to have them sealed. And since then, Pima County’s Public Defense Services has operated a free legal clinic, usually once a month, to offer advice, and file the necessary paperwork.

Criminal records aren’t just convictions, but also arrests and charges that could have been dropped. Dean Brault is the Public Defense Services’ director.

“The biggest common theme for people asking to get their records sealed is that [the records] are limiting their employment. People don’t get promoted. People can’t get better jobs," Brault said.

Those wanting their records sealed will be screened by a legal team of volunteers. No appointment is needed. The team can’t file paperwork for records outside the county, but anyone with Arizona records can get advice. 

“We can access some stuff and if we can confirm that it appears that they’re eligible, we can still assist them with preparing the petition [to seal their record]," Brault said.

Violent, sexual or dangerous records are not eligible for consideration. Neither are federal records.

More information about Pima County's Public Defense Services can be found at  pima.gov/796/Public-Defense-Services.

Information on how juvenile records may be eligible to be destroyed can be at  pima.gov/279/Juvenile-Records-Destruction.

Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.