Alternative Punishments to Jail in the State of Florida

Interviewer: What are the alternative punishments to jail that you can get them into?

Randy Berman: Alternative sentencing is a huge area that I use for people who are looking at Jail. When you have a situation where you decide it’s best to accept the best plea offer that includes a jail sentence, I always look for the alternative that will allow the person to stay out but in a restricted way that state attorney or the judge would go along with. There is house arrest, where you’re literally confined to the four walls of your home.

In that situation they hook you up to a monitor and if you go outside the boundaries of your property the monitor would send on a signal to the police indicating that you’ve gone too far and you would be violating your house arrest.

Probation is one of the Most Common Alternatives to Jail

Obviously probation is an alternative where you’re allowed to remain at liberty but you have conditions imposed on you and you have to report to a probation officer on a monthly basis. For people with drug or alcohol problems a sentence that would require you to go for inpatient treatment and follow up treatment at a half-way house is an alternative to jail. We always try to seek these types of alternatives to incarceration.

The Process of Expungement in the State of Florida

Interviewer: What does expungement mean?

Randy Berman: In Florida there are two processes to hide your record from public view. One is called sealing where the court file is sealed and no longer available to anyone but police agencies so employers or the public can’t get access to that to find out what it’s about. The other method is expungement which is the wiping out of the record, the actual order of destruction of your record, where it’s obliterated by the clerk and by the police agencies that had it. Thereby making it really unfindable by anyone.

There’s a process to get those. In Florida it can take between 8 months and a year to ultimately get your final sealing or expunging from the time that you initiate the process. It’s shorter for sealing because there is one step less to perform. In expunging you initially have to get an application approved by the state attorney where you are prosecuted. The State attorney generally takes three months to return that to you.

If Your Eligibility for an Expungement is determined, you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility

Once you receive the approved application, that and other paperwork has to be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. They do a background check to make sure that you’re qualified for the expungement or the sealing. If they determine that you are they will send you a certificate of eligibility. That usually takes about six months, sometimes less. Once the certificate of eligibility is given to you, then the motion to seal or expunge has to be filed.The order for the judge to grant a sealing or expunging, is also prepared. A Hearing is scheduled.

Notifying the state attorney and the law enforcement agencies involved.A notice for the hearing is sent out at the hearing. The motion is argued to the court and most times the judge enters the order granting the expungement or the sealing. There are certain crimes that you can’t get sealed or expunged. Those are generally violent crimes or sex crimes