This is the next post in my series discussing why Arizona residents benefit by hiring an attorney to set aside convictions and restore civil rights. My last post discussed the differences and similarities between set asides and expungements, and how there really is not much of a distinction between the two anymore. In this article I will be discussing exactly how retaining a lawyer will help you have a better likelihood of success and why attempting to do it yourself, and getting denied, will only delay any future hope of success. I will also discuss what to look for when choosing a lawyer.
Arizona residents are mistaken by thinking that they can just “fill out the paperwork” on their own
Many Arizona residents make the mistake of thinking that their convictions will be set aside, and for felonies their civil rights restored, if they simply fill out the paperwork that is provided by the Courts. The problem is that the Court only provides forms and, possibly, a few instructions. This too often leaves people with a misunderstanding of what is required to be eligible for a set aside or restoration of civil rights, but also gives the person no information about the unique aspects of each Court’s process for these proceedings. This leads to a situation that I see almost every day: someone tries to do it themselves, only to be denied. That person then calls me and wants to retain my services. The problem is that Courts will not change their minds overnight. I have to tell these callers that (depending on the Court) they need to wait a certain amount of time before they should try and refile because that particular Court, in my experience, does not set aside a conviction right after they denied it. Had the caller come to me first, I would have been able to use my knowledge of their particular offense in the particular Court in which they were convicted and done absolutely everything to persuade the judge to grant the motion. But because they were denied, they now have to wait six months to one year to refile and have a chance of succeeding.
What to look for when hiring an attorney for a conviction set aside and restoration of civil rights
Attorneys who regularly practice in this area of law will have a good understanding of what is needed for the best possible chance of success. When choosing an attorney, make sure that they are experienced in setting aside convictions and restoring civil rights. For example, I have filed hundreds of these motions in almost every county in Arizona, and I know other attorneys who have similar experience. I have seen the misfortune of clients who have come to me only after they retained an attorney who does not do these cases on a regular basis. One excellent way to determine if an attorney is experienced in this area is by asking them what the eligibility requirements are for a conviction set aside, as well as for restoration of gun rights. If they cannot tell you from memory, then you probably need to call a different attorney.
Additionally, make sure that you feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose. How long have they spoken with you before trying to sell you their services? Have they answered all your questions or do they seem like they are in a rush, trying to tell you the price and hang up? What sort of guarantees do they offer? For example, every one of my clients is given the benefit of three motions for reconsideration at no additional charge (it is a part of all my retainer agreements). In other words, if for any reason they were to get denied, I would file three more times and would not charge them a dime. Is the lawyer you are speaking with willing to refile for you without charging? Or will they ask you for more money, but at a “discounted rate.”
Those who do not “shop around” to find the attorney who is not just reasonably priced but also a person they feel comfortable with are making a serious error. If you want to have your conviction set aside and your rights restored and become the full citizen that you deserve to be, it is essential that you contact an attorney.
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is crucial for Phoenix and Maricopa County residents looking to set aside their convictions and restore their civil rights
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is the best way for Phoenix or Maricopa County residents to have the best chances of success when asking a Court to set aside a conviction or restore civil rights. This is equally true for felonies at the Superior Court as it is for misdemeanors at the City Courts. Do not make the mistake of just “filling out the forms” – you may be closing the door on success.
Contact our office today if you are interested in a free consultation.