Unfortunately, once you plead guilty to the charge, you cannot turn around and blame the county for the negative consequences of having a criminal record. By definition, a plea of guilty means that you are a wrongdoer and that you are knowingly and voluntarily giving up your right to challenge the evidence and confront your accusers. Back when you took the plea, your judge took every precaution to make this plea airtight by putting on the record somewhere that you knew exactly what you were doing, that you were pleading guilty because you were guilty and hadn't been forced into the plea in any way, that you know you had the right to hearings and trials but were giving these up because you were guilty and so forth and so on.
That record was designed to keep defendants from changing their mind down the road and trying to get their plea back. So although now you realize that what you did may have made sense at the time but was long-term a very costly decision for you, your hands are pretty much tied.
It's almost impossible to reopen the plea and try to get it back and you are probably past the appeal period, as you've also completed a probationary sentence. However, what you could do was what you did already -- petition the court to get your conviction set aside and clean up your record.
You can also go further and apply for a pardon from the governor, which you would have to obtain throught the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency. Again, you wouldn't need a lawyer to accomplish this, although there are lawyers who specialize in pardons, expungements and gun rights. The Board's website
can give you more information about that.
If you feel that this time around it might pay you to use a lawyer so that you can be sure of all your rights before you commit to going forward, you can get a one time inexpensive referral for a half hour consultation with an active member of the Arizona bar in good standing by calling the Arizona Bar Associaton's Lawyer Referral Service
and telling them you want a criminal lawyer who can handle pardons. You could sit down and find out what he'd be able to do for you that could make this come out better than if you did it yourself. And if you weren't interested in hiring him at the close of the conference, you'd be under no obligation to continue with him.
Edited by FranL on 10/2/2010 at 5:54 AM EST