Florida law allows individuals to seal and expunge their criminal records. Doing so can prevent future employers, banks, credit card companies, landlords and even universities from discovering a past indiscretion or mistake that could be a black mark on your record.
Here are the main instances when someone can seal and/or expunge criminal records:
- When the case was dropped or dismissed
- When the verdict was “not guilty”
If either of the above instances occurred, the criminal history record can be expunged. When a case is expunged, the criminal record is physically obliterated or destroyed and the person can lawfully deny, under oath, that they were never even arrested.
If you were not convicted and adjudication of guilt was withheld, expungement is possible once the case has been sealed, and no other criminal conviction occurs for the next ten years.
In order to qualify for seal and expunge a criminal record in Florida, applicants cannot have any convictions, ever.
What Type of Expungement Do You Need?
There are various ways to seal and/or expunge criminal records in Florida, including Administrative Expungement. An administrative expungement is based on an arrest that was made due to some form of error or mistake, such as:
- Arrests that were based on false reports
- Arrests that were based on mis-identification
- Arrest warrants for right-name, wrong-person
Juvenile Expungements must be completed within 12-months, and the individual must have successfully completed a pretrial diversion program. The offense cannot be of a violent nature.
Adult Record Expungement
Adult expungements of criminal records are available based on the following eligibility criteria:
- No previous sealing or expunging of any criminal arrest record
- No prior adjudication of guilt for a felony or misdemeanor offense
- Not be under court supervision such as probation, house arrest, or community control
- The criminal arrest record in not for a crime that is on the list of ineligible offenses
Incorrect or Erroneous Criminal Record
There are times when the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (F.D.L.E.) makes mistakes, and a person with no criminal history can have something turn up at some point. If this is the case, we can start an expungement process to correct this record.
What is the Difference between Sealing and Expunging a Criminal Record?
Both sealing and expunging criminal records allows an individual to deny the arrest ever occurred. In both instances, these records are no longer public under Florida law. Another benefit in both cases is the destruction of the digital files that can be obtained by private companies such as Spokeo, MugShots or Intelius that make this information available to the public.
There is also a difference between sealing and expunging a record:
- Sealing: obscures the information from viewing by the majority of people, records are made confidential, but are not destroyed
- Expunging: permits the physical destruction of the incident’s public records as if it never happened, however, fingerprints and DNA are excluded from this destruction
However, even when an arrest record is sealed or expunged, access is still available to law enforcement, the judicial system, when attempting to purchase a firearm, or seeking employment with an organization that serves the elderly or children.
If you are interested in learning more about how to seal or expunge criminal records, please contact the Law Offices of Robert Malove. We will guide you through the sealing and expungement process.
Attorney Robert Malove concentrates on all facets of criminal defense including legal issues relating to DUI defense, white collar crime defense and healthcare / Medicare fraud defense for which his Health Care Fraud Blog has received widespread recognition. Mr. Malove has authored the consumer guide: How to Choose a DUI Lawyer in Florida, When the Feds Come Knocking, and is a co-author of the noted treatise: WHITE COLLAR CRIME: HEALTH CARE FRAUD (West)(2014-2015 ed.). We are here to fight for your rights. You can reach us at 888-744-8225