Florida law allows for some individuals to seal and or expunge their criminal records. Doing so can prevent future employers, landlords banks, credit card companies, and even universities from discovering a past run-in with the law or mistake that could be a black mark on your record.
Here are the main situations when you can seal and expunge of criminal records:
- When the final disposition in the case was dropped or dismissed
- When the verdict was “not guilty”
The above instances can be available for immediate action.
If a withhold of adjudication was entered, expungement is possible once the case has been sealed and no further criminal action has been reported for ten years.
In order to qualify to seal or expunge of criminal records, Florida residents must not have any guilty judgments against them on their record.
What Type of Expungement Are There?
There are various ways to seal and expunge 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 mid-identification
- Arrest warrants for right-name, wrong-person
Adult Record Expungement: Adult expungements of criminal records are available based on the following eligibility criteria:
- No previous sealing or expunging of a criminal arrest record
- No prior guilty adjudication of a felony or misdemeanor offense
- Not currently under court supervision such as probation, house arrest, or community control
- The criminal arrest record is not on the excluded offenses list
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 Record?
Both sealing and expunging criminal records allow you the opportunity to deny the arrest ever occurred. In both instances, these records are no longer available to the public. Expunged records are physically destroyed. Sealed records are hidden from public view.
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
Even when a record is sealed, 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 pled guilty to an offense, the record can be sealed so long as adjudication was withheld, however, if a defendant was adjudicated guilty (convicted), the record cannot be sealed or expunged.
Watch: How can I get my criminal record sealed or expunged in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County?
Criminal Defense Attorney, Robert Malove explains the process of expungement of criminal records.