The state of Florida does not look favorably upon people with past criminal records. Florida's courts and law enforcement agencies make it easy for anyone to access criminal records. For anyone who has been arrested in Florida, this is bad news that can make it difficult to do most of the important things in life, like get a job, decent housing, travel and even build relationships. Florida allows a person to expunge a criminal record if that record did not lead to a conviction or if it has already been sealed for 10 or more years. A person may be eligible to seal their Florida criminal record if they received withheld adjudication and successfully completed their sentence. Not all offenses are eligible. In Florida, only those individuals who have no convictions on their record are eligible to seal or expunge their criminal record.
The first step is to find out if you qualify for a Florida expungement or sealing of the records. You can also be granted an expungement if charges were not filed by the prosecuting agency, if they decided to drop the case, the case was dismissed or you were found not guilty in court. You can also get an expungement if you plead guilty and complete whatever sentence is handed down to the court. Conversely, if you are convicted of the crime you were charged with or if you have another arrest or charge on your record then you fail to qualify. In other words, one expungement per person. There is also a long list of offenses that don't qualify for expungement even if you do plead guilty. In this day and age, Television and Hollywood have glamorized criminal activity. People are fascinated with movies like "Scarface" or "The Godfather" and even video games like "Grand Theft Auto" that let you take on the role of a criminal or “the bad guy.”
What if you were arrested for a criminal offense in real life? No one is going to make a movie of that, but that arrest record can stick with you and stop you from getting a good job or a bank loan. When the criminal records are sealed or expunged, this can prevent anyone in the public arena from accessing these files. Once your record is expunged in Florida, you are able to apply to any state or local government job such as teaching or law enforcement. There is a small court filing fee of $75 associated with this process.
However, it doesn't mean that you just pay your money and you're done. You have to make sure you have filled out the proper forms and you have all the relevant documentation. This is where an experienced lawyer can help move the process along. Without that type of professional legal guidance you might find yourself back to square one. This is not something you want to leave to inexperience. Expungement typically takes about 7 months in Florida. People that are eligible to get a criminal record expunged or sealed in Florida can hope to get a fresh start. While the process takes time and costs some money, that fresh start can be an incredibly good investment.
You cannot expunge or seal your Florida record if you have ever been convicted of a crime, regardless of when the conviction occurred or where (out-of-state convictions will also make you ineligible). A petition to expunge your criminal records must be submitted at the court where the arrest or conviction occurred. An expungement seals and destroys the records of the arrest and case. A sealing of the record effectively seals the records making it unavailable to public view.
Process for Record Expungement in Florida
Record clearing proceedings can be complicated. Small mistakes on your petition could force you to restart the whole process, possibly delaying you months or years. The expungement process in the state of Florida requires the following:
Submission of fingerprints
Obtaining DA Statement regarding status of a case for which expungement is sought
Receiving a Certificate of Eligibility
Filing a Petition to Expunge/Seal the criminal record with Court
Either a grant or denial of the petition by the Court.
An individual who has pleaded guilty or no contest to any of the following offenses is ineligible to have a criminal record sealed or expunged under Florida law:
Burglary of a dwelling
Child (Abuse or Aggravated)
Child (Sex with 12 to 18 by familial member)
Child (Sexual performance Of)
Communications Fraud Act Violations
Domestic Violence (Resulting in Injury)
Elderly (Abuse or Aggravated)
Explosives, illegal use of
Lewd or lascivious Acts on Children
Lewd or lascivious Acts on the Elderly
Obscenity (Providing to Minors)
Obscenity (Computer Pornography)
Obscenity (Selling or Buying Minors)
Prostitution (Procuring under 18)
Public Officer or Public Employee Offenses
Robbery (Home Invasion)
Stalking and Aggravated stalking
Sexual Misconduct (DCF)
Sexual Misconduct (Corrections)
An individual that was charged with, or arrested for any of, the above offenses and the charges were later abandoned, dismissed, or dropped, is eligible for an expungement. Once a record is sealed or expunged, it is no longer available to the public, and an individual can legally deny on applications for employment that the incident ever took place. However, that is not a hard and fast rule and there are some exceptions where the arrest or charge cannot be denied. These exceptions are typically criminal justice agencies and jobs that are involved specifically with children.
When a record has been expunged, the entities which would have access to a sealed record will be informed that the subject has had an expungement and they would not have access to the record itself without a court order. A caveat statement indicating that “Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record” is what the petitioner would receive. Call The Chauncey Law Firm, P.A. today to get more information on Expunging of records in Florida.
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