There is a method in Florida to seal or expunge your criminal history records. Expungement is a deletion of a person’s criminal history record from the clerk’s office, the court record, the arresting agencies, and the prosecuting authority.
Why Would Someone Want To Get An Expungement?
A person would look to expungement in order to remove his brush with the law from his record. This way, potential employers or banks that might loan him money won’t consider this record against him.
Could Someone Get An Expungement With A Misdemeanor And A Felony?
Someone could get an expungement in this event. However, it would depend on the charge for which he was arrested.
Specific offenses are precluded from expungement, even if the person otherwise qualifies. These include arson, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, illegal use of explosives, child abuse, aggravated child abuse, abuse of an elderly person or a disabled adult, aggravated abuse of an elderly or disabled adult, aircraft piracy, kidnapping, homicide, manslaughter, sexual battery in any sex-related case, robbery, carjacking, burglary of a dwelling, stalking, aggravated stalking, felony domestic violence, home invasion robbery, an act of terrorism, or manufacturing any substance in violation of chapter 893 which, in Florida, is called the controlled substances act.
A person cannot seal or expunge his record for the arrest of either committing or conspiring to commit these crimes, even if a dismissal or a withheld adjudication occurred.
Are There Any Kinds Of Cases That Cannot Be Expunged?
In Florida, the crimes mentioned above are forbidden from being expunged or sealed. However, someone can qualify for expunging or sealing the charge if he was arrested for any other crime.
What Is The Difference Between Getting Something Expunged And Getting Something Sealed? Can A Person Do Both?
Between the two, a person ultimately wants to have an expungement. This is because it completely wipes the record clean.
Sealing simply prevents any public dissemination of the case to anyone. The clerk seals the record to disallow its access online. However, it’s not wiped out.
Specific requirements are involved to allow the charge to be sealed. Ultimately, after the charge has been sealed for ten years, a person can seek an expungement.
The difference between the two is that the person is allowed to expunge the charge immediately if the case was dismissed prior to any type of plea.
If the person took a plea and was placed on probation, which, in Florida, is something that requires withheld adjudication, meaning no adjudication of guilt, then the first step is to seal the charge. The person cannot expunge this type of disposition until it’s been sealed for ten years.
Essentially, a case that has been dropped or dismissed can be expunged immediately. On the other hand, a case that resulted in a withheld adjudication can first be sealed and then expunged after ten years.
How Does Expungement Work in Juvenile Cases?
Expungement works precisely the same in juvenile cases. It has the same restrictions, as well. Therefore, the same offenses are precluded. Certain exceptions and requirements must be fulfilled in the same manner.
However, someone who wanted to seal or expunge a juvenile record needs to note that the juvenile records are not open for public view, anyway. A person cannot find another person’s juvenile record online. The juvenile division of the court will not provide another person’s juvenile record because it’s simply not public information.
Therefore, this begs the question of why someone would want to use his once-in-a-lifetime allowance for sealing or expunging a record on this sort of case because no one will see it except for prosecutors, police agencies, and maybe other government agencies with access.
How Long Does The Process For Expungement Take, And What Is The Process Like When Compared To Sealing?
The process is very similar for both. However, the sealing process takes less time because it eliminates one step. Initially, an application is filed. The application is prepared, signed, and notarized, and it states the charge the person is attempting to seal or expunge.
For sealing, the person simply fills out the application and submits it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with the appropriate fee. This way, the Law Enforcement can issue a certificate of eligibility if the person ultimately qualifies.
An expungement requires an additional step. The same application is filled out and sent to the state attorney in the county in which the person was prosecuted. This way, the county can sign off on it and authorize it for expungement.
After this, the county returns it, and the person forwards it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in order to receive the certificate of eligibility. The state attorney usually takes between 3 to 6 months to sign off on the application. FDLE takes another 3 to 6 months to issue the certificate of eligibility.
Someone who is simply requesting a seal would skip the prosecutor’s delay, making it only 3 to 6 months. However, someone who is getting an expungement must go to the prosecutor for approval. This will leave them with 6 to 12 months to receive the certificate.
After the certificate is in-hand, the person must file a motion to seal or expunge the case in the particular court the person was charged. The motion must be submitted to the clerk; copies must go to law enforcement, FDLE, and the prosecutor in the jurisdiction where the case evolved.
After this, a hearing date is set to have the motion heard before the judge. Furthermore, the notice, the order, and the affidavit must be prepared and signed in front of a notary, which is part of the package ultimately filed with the court.
If everything is in order at the hearing, the judge grants the motion. The person must have a prepared order allowing and directing for the sealing or expungement of the record. These documents are quite technical and involved; they encompass a great number of pages. Drafting one is not as simple as drafting a regular order.
As such, the order must specifically direct all the agencies to do certain things pursuant to the statutes involved. Although some people try to draft the order themselves, it is a lot more difficult than it sounds. It’s much easier to have a qualified attorney handle it.
What Are The Most Common Cases People Want To Get Expunged?
The most common or most prevalent types of cases that people get expunged are first-time offenses. Generally, these are misdemeanor cases in which the misdemeanor was dismissed.
Misdemeanor cases are more easily dismissed than felonies. As such, a first-time offender who was able to get his case dismissed and was concerned about his employment would routinely go to a lawyer to get his case expunged to maintain a clean record. People sometimes come years after misdemeanor or felony cases that qualify, seeking a sealing or an expungement.
How Long Does Someone Have To Wait Before He Can Apply For The Expungement Process?
A person must wait until the case was completed. This occurs after the person serves a probationary sentence if he had a withheld adjudication on the charge or after an acquittal from a jury. This could also occur after a dismissal or after a nolle prosse of the case.
I can help you determine if you meet the criteria for this relief and gather the necessary paperwork to get it done. Don’t let your prior brush with the system interfere with your future.
The following link gives you the forms and basic information on sealing & expunging criminal records in Florida.
I offer a special discounted fee rate to prepare and file your petition to the court which includes the hearing before the judge upon your obtaining the completed and authorized forms.
For more information on Sealing And Expungement, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (561) 866-5717 today.