Although a person is entitled to get an expungement after the sealing has lasted for 10 years, many people are not aware of the requirement of initially sealing after they receive the withheld adjudication.
Often times, this information is either not told or is told incorrectly by the lawyer. The person is only told that the case can be expunged when he receives a withheld adjudication. However, the person later finds out about the requirement to seal the case first. After waiting 10 years after the sealing, the person can go through the expungement process.
People are further surprised to learn that if they go to trial on a case and get acquitted, then unfortunately, because they went to trial, the law in Florida requires the case first to be sealed. Therefore, the law treats an acquittal differently than a case that has been dismissed earlier by the prosecutor.
This seems unfair, of course. The appellate courts haven’t yet decided this inequity. However, due process violation occurs under this law in my opinion.
Is There A Package Deal To Get Many Over-Ten-Year-Old Convictions Expunged?
No package deals can occur. The process is very strict and exact. The person receives only one sealing or expungement in his lifetime, for only one case.
Therefore, if someone had many cases over the years, he can only seal or expunge one of them, if he qualifies. No more.
Do Some Clients Not Realize They Can Get Something Expunged?
When I deal with people in misdemeanor court or first-time offenders, discussing the expungement process is part of my overall explanation of their rights regarding their case. It is a standard procedure to inform my clients whether they qualify for sealing or expunging.
Would An Expungement From Another State Hold Weight In Florida?
Florida specifically includes an expungement from any other jurisdiction as the once-in-a-lifetime expungement. Therefore, if you receive an expungement or sealing from a different state that precludes you from receiving one in Florida.
Can Charges From Another State Be Expunged In Florida?
No. Unfortunately, the person must go back to the jurisdiction and seek relief from the court in the other state. Florida has no jurisdiction to tell another state what to do with their records. Therefore, the person must return to the county in which the case was prosecuted to see what their specific laws require.
What Mistakes Would You Recommend Someone Not to Make?
A lot of times people get anxious and try to seal or expunge their first dismissed case. However, knowing they only get one shot in a lifetime, I sometimes recommend that they wait and save this for a rainy day, just in case they do become involved in the criminal justice system again and find themselves in a more serious situation.
If they are eligible, the person might prefer to have the more serious case sealed or expunged rather than the original dismissed misdemeanor. People who are self-employed or people who are very confident about maintaining their job because of their relationship with their employer may feel that a misdemeanor charge will not hurt their employment.
Therefore, sometimes it is better to wait, just in case someone wanted to use his once-in-a-lifetime chance for something more serious down the road.
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